Committee approves bill targeting illegal gun buyers

OLYMPIA -- Lawmakers have taken the first step toward a crackdown on the thousands of people in Washington who try to buy a gun each year even though they are not allowed to possess a firearm.

The House Committee on Judiciary unanimously approved House Bill 1501, according to bill sponsor Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island).

In testimony last week, domestic violence survivors delivered gripping testimony about the need to keep guns out of the hands of people who have already shown they are dangerous.

“It’s so awesome there are people who care and believe,” said Paula, when she learned Friday that the bill is moving forward. She's a long-time victim of domestic abuse who tearfully testified before the committee last week.

Paula learned last year from an investigation by KING 5 and public radio’s Northwest News Network that her abusive ex-boyfriend tried to buy a handgun.

He failed the background check because of a permanent protection order that Paula has in place against him. 

People with protection orders, felony convictions, mental health holds or domestic violence convictions are prohibited from owning or purchasing firearms.

FBI records show that nearly 4,000 prohibited persons try to buy a gun in Washington each year. 

The investigation by KING 5 and Northwest News Network could not turn up a single case in which one of those would-be buyers was prosecuted. Police agencies say they do not have the resources to follow-up on these cases.

Lying about eligibility on a firearms purchase form is a state and federal crime.

House Bill 1501 would require the State Patrol to launch an investigation each time a gun buyer fails a background check.

It would also set up a notification system that would allow crime victims, like Paula, to be notified if their abuser tried to buy a gun.

The bill now heads to the full House of Representatives.

Copyright 2017 KING


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