–by Kevin Midbust
The Columbia Basin Badger Club is a non-partisan community forum for discussions on issues of the day.
August 29th the forum topic was on the initiatives 591 and 594. The Protect our Gun Rights initiative and the Universal Background check initiative.
Initiative 591 has two provisions, one which makes it unlawful for any government agency to confiscate firearms without due process, and another which prevents the state from enacting any background checking system on firearms that is more strict than the national standard.
Initiative 594 expands background checks to all gun sales and gun transfers unless it is a gift between immediate family members or an antique firearm.
Initiative 594 defines transfer as the intended delivery of a firearm to a person without some form of compensation. Transfers include gifts and loans of a firearm.
The advocate for Initiative 591 explained how there is the ability of Washington state’s government to enact an emergency gun ban which would allow for the confiscation of firearms.
One of the first questions asked by a member of the club was whether if it would save one life that it would be enough?
The advocate for I-594 answered by saying that she believes that if it saves just one life, it is worth it. She also said that places with bills like this enacted, 39% fewer police officers are shot with handguns.
The advocate for I-591 argued that while 594 might save just one life, that it has the possibility to destroy lives through entrapment of law abiding gun owners.
Another question was asked about whether it is truly believed that guns would be confiscated.
The advocate for I-591 explained that law enforcement follows the law and that when law enforcement is told to do something, they do it. He explained about the gun confiscation that happened with hurricane Katrina. It has the possibility to put law enforcement in dangerous positions
The advocate for I-594 went on to explain that I-594 does not create a registry, there is a state record keeping system, but 594 does not create any registry system.
A question was asked about what would be advocated for the mental health problem.
The I-591 advocate explained that he was not a mental health expert. He said that the problem is that we need to address the people that need to be in jail or need to get treatment.
The I-594 advocate explained that there is no one solution to gun violence. The said that it is know that background checks worked. The background check system has blocked over 1,000 gun sales from people with adjudicated mental illness. She thinks closing the loophole will help to address the problem.
A question was asked about registration in regard to consumer products and asked whether it would be advantageous to have a universal background check system.
I-591 advocate explained that most consumer products are not in the constitution. He explains that the 2nd amendment and 4th amendment are of concerned with registration. He also talked about the Manchin-Toomey bill that was in congress as well as explained that gun shows do currently do background checks.
I-594 advocate again said that the I-594 doesn’t create a registry. She said that 98% of Washingtonians are within 10 miles of a Licensed firearm dealer, that there are more dealers than Starbucks and post offices.
I asked two questions at the Columbia Basin Badger Club forum on Initiatives 591 and 594.
First, I asked about the term “Internet sales”. I explained that I had purchased a gun on the Internet. I wanted to see how an Internet sale worked. I was required to go through a background check, which included showing my ID, giving my Social security number, and also showing my concealed pistol license.
The Federal Firearm Licensed person who processed the background check explained that without a Social Security Number the background check could be held up for a few days.
One of the big selling points for 594 has been the ideas of the Internet loophole or Internet sales.
The word Internet is used once in the entire initiative, and the term “Internet sales” is not defined in the initiative.
So, with that being said, I asked the representative that was advocating I-594 if she would define the term “Internet sales.”
The response was: “I am not an expert of the terminology of the bill, I am just and advocate for it.”
She goes on to explain that there are websites that have people that are not licensed dealers.
The advocate for I-591 responded with: “You are exactly correct, you can’t purchase a firearm through the mail or the Internet without violating some part of federal law.”
He also added that Washington state has a pistol registry that can be searched on the state’s website.
A question was asked as to what the consequences of both initiatives passing.
Neither of the advocates really know what would happen. Though the advocate for I-591 said that I-594 doesn’t meet the Washington state law of sticking to one subject for initiatives.
It was asked to comment on the idea that the 2nd amendment states that the states do regulate firearms.
The I-591 advocate said that the 2nd amendment doesn’t say anything about states.
The I-594 advocate said that background checks are important and thinks it is common sense to do background checks on all gun sales.
A question was asked about how good ideas were used to disguise hidden things in the fine print and wanted to know why it takes 18 pages to describe a law that can be put together in three or four sentences, what is hidden in the fine print?
The advocate for I-594 said “I wouldn’t say there is anything hidden in the fine print. There are a lot of reasonable exemptions in the bill.”
The advocate for I-591 brought up the bill that was in the legislature a year ago. Bill 1588 was only two pages and would have done the same thing.
The ability of a person to get a background check in a timely fashion was asked and the unintended consequences of I-594.
The advocate for I-594 said that she doesn’t really see how it infringes on rights.
The advocate for I-591 said that there is the problem that if a person were to loan their gun to someone while a gun shop was closed.
A question was then asked if I-594 creates a registry.
The advocate for I-591 explained that I-594 does not create a registry, it expands the one currently in place. He agrees with the advocate for I-594 on there not being a registry created.
The advocate for I-594 explained that it is the same system that has been in place for years.
The initiative also re-defines the word person.
Initiative 594 defines person as any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, club, organization, society, joint stock company, or other legal entity.
I then asked whether the backers of I-594 believe that corporations are people.
The response was: “I am sorry, I am not a legalese expert. Which, you know, most of those are full of language like that. I don’t believe there is an intent to re-define what person means, but like I said, I am not an expert, just and advocate.”
The final question was asked about the people that don’t abide by the law.
The advocate for I-594 said that we know people exploit the current loophole in the law.
The advocate for I-591 explained that the high profile cases were that the person either got their gun through a background check, or that they stole the gun.
This event was video taped, and will be available on the Internet. It will also be on Northwest Public Television in a couple weeks.
On September 26th, the club is expected to host a congressional candidates forum with the candidates Clint Didier and Dan Newhouse.