An eight-page bill that would expand the exemptions to Initiative 594 – the 18-page gun control measure passed by Washington state voters in November – was up for first reading today in Olympia, and it’s got the backing of 40 Republicans and two Democrats.
House Bill 2164 would revise background check requirements for firearms transfers “only between and among persons who are not otherwise disqualified from legally possessing a firearm.” Among those who would be exempted are police officers, security guards and, most significantly, citizens who hold active concealed pistol licenses.
Another tenet of the measure prohibits state and local governments from maintaining a registry or database of information provided by private citizens who are involved in the transfer of a firearm who are not federal firearms license holders. In addition, sales or transfers between such people are exempt from the use tax as well as the sales tax under HB 2164.
The term “transfer” is also specifically defined as “the conveyance of a firearm from a person to another person with the intent of both parties to the conveyance that the transferee assumes all rights of possession, ownership, and control of the firearm and the transferor loses all rights of possession, ownership, and control of the firearm.” One of the alleged problems with I-594 is that nobody, including the Washington State Patrol, could apparently determine exactly what the term meant, leading to confusion about whether people swapping firearms at protests could be cited.
HB 2164 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Laurie Jinkins. Whether it will get a hearing remains to be seen, although with 42 co-sponsors, there could be a fair amount of pressure to move the bill. That’s nearly half of all the House members, and they have apparently been hearing from constituents.
That much is made clear in the bill’s first new section. That section notes, “…that most people in Washington state strive in good faith to comply with the law, but when laws become so overreaching, so intrusive, and so intransigent in the normal affairs of law-abiding citizens, when persons with criminal intent feel no duty to obey such laws but simply ignore them, then government has a duty to provide relief from the heavy burdens such laws impose on people of good will.”
When it comes to firearms, lawmakers might also be paying attention to the aftermath of a 2012 police shooting that just cost the Department of Corrections $2.5 million. That’s the payout to a man named Dustin Theoharis, who survived being shot 16 times by a King County sheriff’s deputy and a corrections officer while he was lying in bed in an Auburn residence.
The Seattle Times is reporting this morning that it’s the second payout to Theoharis. He also collected $3 million from King County. What raises some eyebrows about this case is that Theoharis wasn’t even the man they were looking for. Details of the shooting have been in dispute, but the DOC decided to settle a lawsuit Theoharis had filed.
Expect considerable debate about police use of force, not only because of this payout, but because of the recent fatal shooting in Pasco that has spawned peaceful protests over the past several days. This column discussed the shooting last week.
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