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Published on Friday, February 15, 2013

Numerous bills introduced to regulate firearms

A number of proposals have been introduced on firearms, background checks, penalties, and much more. On February 13, the House Judiciary committee heard many of these bills. Following is a brief summary of some of these bills.

  • HB 1147 – Makes it unlawful for an adult to own or possess a firearm after any conviction where they have been found not guilty by reason of insanity or for the unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree. This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee on February 13.
  • HB 1612 – Establishes a central registry of persons convicted of certain violations of firearm laws. This list would be housed by the Washington State Patrol and only be accessed by law enforcement. It would be up to the courts’ discretion whether or not the offender must be placed on this list. It would then be a crime to fail to register for this list if required to do so.
  • HB 1588 – This bill was heard on February 13 and is scheduled for executive session on February 19. This bill requires a universal background check on transfers and purchases of firearms. Currently, if someone wants to sell a firearm to another person, no background check is required for that sale to take place. Only licensed dealers require background checks for the sale of a firearm. This bill requires the seller to obtain a background check on a potential buyer through the local law enforcement agency or a licensed firearm dealer. This does not apply to sales of antique firearms. Also, the Department of Licensing (DOL) is required to create an application for transfer of a firearm, to be completed by the purchaser. The Senate has a companion bill, SB 5625, but it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
  • HB 1676 – This bill makes it a gross misdemeanor of reckless endangerment to allow a child under the age of 16 to gain access to a loaded firearm. It provides exemptions when the firearm is stored in a locked box or gun safe, or if the child’s access to the firearm is supervised by an adult. This bill also requires firearm dealers to offer the purchaser a locked box, or a lock device, and makes it a civil infraction to fail to make this offer. SB 5710 in the Senate is similar, but defines child as someone under the age of 12 rather than 16. Another Senate bill, SB 5485, defines child as someone under the age of 14 and makes it a Class C felony if a person enables a child to gain access to a loaded firearm and subsequently injure or kill himself or others. The House bill was heard on February 13, and the Senate bills do not yet have hearings scheduled.
  • HB 1703 ­– This bill establishes a tax exemption for various types of gun locks.
  • SB 5479 – This bill allows people to voluntarily give their firearm to a police or sheriff’s department to hold for thirty days. The purpose is to temporarily remove firearms from households when the owner of that firearm feels it is not safe to have it in the house. After thirty days, that person must either come and get the firearm, or resubmit it for another 30 days. The registered owner is the only person able to pick up the firearm. If it’s not retrieved within 60 days, the law enforcement agency is responsible for disposing of it. The law enforcement agency can charge up to $50 for holding onto these weapons.
  • HB 1839 – The language in this bill exempts a person purchasing a firearm from a criminal background check when they have a valid concealed pistol license (CPL). For someone who does not have a valid CPL, the background check must be conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Dealers must conduct this background check if the buyer’s CPL was issued prior to July 22, 2011. Those who have a CPL issued on or after July 22, 2011, do not need to have a background check completed. This bill is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 8am in the House Judiciary Committee.
  • HB 1840 – This bill makes it a crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree if a person has a protection order against them for domestic violence, sexual assault, or harassment, or if they are engaged in child custody or legal separation proceedings and are shown to be a credible threat to the physical safety of the person or people involved in those court proceedings. This bill is scheduled for a hearing on February 20 at 8am in the House Judiciary Committee.

This is not a comprehensive list, but covers most of the legislative proposals that have been introduced.

Categories: Law & justice