Common Sense: Washington State Voters Approve Expanded Background Checks On Gun Sales


On the surface, Tuesday night’s elections were cause to celebrate in Republican circles as the GOP snatched majority control of the Senate from Democrats and expanded their majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans also fared better in the governors’ races than many figured. However, while progressives, liberals and Democrats regroup and plan for 2016’s general election, there were some glimmers of hope that the country isn’t necessarily moving towards the Koch-fueled dystopian future that some fear.

Voters in Washington overwhelmingly passed an initiative that would expand the state’s background check laws. Initiative 594 calls for background checks to be performed on all gun purchases in the state, not just those through licensed dealers. Therefore, firearm sales at gun shows, online or through private parties can only be completed if a background check on the purchaser is done. As long as one party to the sale is located in Washington, the new law applies. Previously, Washington law only required background checks on purchases of pistols through licensed dealers. The ballot initiative passed with nearly 60% support.

At the same time, voters also rejected a ballot initiative that would strengthen the state’s gun laws. Initiative 591 was intended to make it more difficult to require background checks on individuals purchasing firearms in the state as it would require a national standard set. (We all know that the NRA has long prevented such a standard from getting through the federal legislative system.) It also included language prohibiting the government from confiscating firearms from individuals without due process. The measure was defeated 55% to 45%.

Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action released a joint statement Tuesday night praising the passage of I-594 and expressing relief that I-591 was defeated.

“When it comes to guns, the only Washington that mattered this election was Washington State and the victory for I-594, the background check ballot initiative there, proved the polls right – when Americans vote on public safety measures to prevent gun violence, gun safety wins,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The NRA might be able to intimidate Washington DC and state legislators, but they don’t intimidate American voters – and we expect to prove this again in Nevada where signatures are currently being gathered to put background checks on the ballot there too.”

“Moms took the fight to keep our children safe from gun violence to a new grassroots level – and the election results show that while the gun lobby can bully politicians, they can’t bully the American people at the voting booth,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We set out to sign up one million Americans to vote for gun safety, and that’s just what we did this election. We knocked on doors, we made calls, and we have built a grassroots movement that is not only rivaling the gun lobby, but winning key races. But this is a long-term effort – the gun lobby has had the field to themselves for decades and we’re finally meeting them on their turf and showing them—and the legislators in their pockets—that Americans will stand up for public safety.”

“The people of Washington have delivered an historic and enormous victory for common-sense gun laws that will reverberate across our country,” said Zach Silk, campaign manager for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “By voting Yes On 594 and No on 591, Washington has demonstrated that when a coalition of everyday citizens has the resources, support, and energy necessary to take on the gun lobby, they can win. Washington will serve as an example for Americans in states across our country that they can stand up for common-sense values of gun responsibility and win.”

“Tonight’s victory of Washington’s 594 proves that citizens, including gun owners, do want common-sense gun safety laws, said Mayor Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma. “Washington State is an example for the entire country – showing citizens and elected officials in all states that they have the right to stand up for common-sense values of gun responsibility and community safety – and can win.”


The vote on Tuesday was very likely influenced by actions that occurred in the state less than two weeks ago. On October 24th, a horrific school shooting happened near Seattle that claimed the lives of four teenage students, including the shooter. 15-year-old Jaylen Fryberg lured friends and cousins of his to lunch via text and social media and then shot them at close range with a Baretta pistol before turning the gun on himself. The tragic event has shaken the local community and could have been a major factor on the measure’s passage.

With I-594’s successful passage, Everytown and Moms Demand Action are looking to get similar legislation on the ballots in other states by 2016. States they are targeting are Arizona, Maine, Oregon and Nevada. Other than Arizona, these states, like Washington, are considered blue or swing states but with a large percentage of gunowners among their populations. With the knowledge that gun control measures will be a no-go on a federal level for at least two years, gun control advocates are hoping to gradually change the landscape on a state level.


Photo courtesy of AP

24 Replies to “Common Sense: Washington State Voters Approve Expanded Background Checks On Gun Sales”

  1. Here’s the funny part though: You (liberal bedwetters of King County and Puget Sound) think that I’ll comply just because you told me to.

    Making a law and enforcing it are two entirely different things. Your new law requires me to voluntarily comply. Guess what? I’m not going to :-)

  2. Good. Love to see you in prison. One less non-responsible gun owner to worry about

    BTW, I bet you dont know what state this proposal was for

  3. This is just another fell good law that can’t be enforced. It will bog down the courts and cost the tax payers million of dollars . Simple question once a gun was purchased their our no records of ownership how do you prove ownership. Second this will stop a lot of hunters from hunting in your state and will cost you thousands of jobs , great idea just another knee jerk reaction . The BIG QUESTION can anyone name any item that the government has controlled successfully?

  4. Expanded background checks will stop hunting? LOL! sorry, but that fantasy belongs to Insane Wayne. Not reality

  5. Don..first off would you stop using the name of a brave but somewhat eccentric hero of fiction, your comment was an insult to all BRAVE Americans. In other words Americans who are BRAVE enough NOT to own a gun opposed to the COWARDS who live by them. People like YOU NEED your guns taken away for the safety of us all..whether you comply or not…IDIOT COWARD!! Why don’t you pick a screen name that fits you Cletus B. Fuckstick..

  6. Shiva, gun nuts don’t live in the real world so we must remember that. And I don’t think this law will stand long because the NRA will get this law nullified with cash.

  7. I’m sure that all of the people who were “dealing in guns” will just stop now that that was passed. The only reason they were doing it because it was perfectly legal to sell to them without the Statist laws on the books! All’s Washington State did was make things more difficult for the law abiding citizen and quite possibly turn a few more people into “criminals” because they don’t feel the need to follow along with a law that lacks any common sense and will not affect the “real criminals” out there selling and trading guns in the black market.

  8. So instead of going through a simple check to make sure you’re not a felon you are willing to drive hundreds of miles to hunt? Typical republican economics. WOLVERINES!!!!

  9. Just plain facts on the right to own in Washington

    Permit to purchase: Not required for any firearms.

    Firearm registration: Not required for long guns. Retail dealers must record and report all retail pistol sales to local police/sheriff and to state department of licensing.

    License: Not required other than to carry a concealed handgun in public.

    Handgun permit/license: Washington’s police departments and 39 county sheriffs review concealed carry permit applications on a “shall issue” basis.

    Fee: $52.50. Breakdown: $15 for application, $4 for local agency administrative costs, $14 to state, $3 to firearms range account in state’s general fund, plus $16.50 imposed by the FBI for fingerprints, background check. There are no training requirements.

  10. Continue
    Duration: Five years.

    Renewal: $32.

    Open carry: Open carry is lawful in Washington without any permit. Open carry of a loaded handgun in a vehicle is legal only with a concealed pistol license. Open carry of a loaded long gun in a vehicle is always illegal,

    State preemption: Local governments are prohibited from imposing more restrictive gun laws than the state.

    Assault weapons ban: No.

    Legislative outlook: Washington lawmakers are seeking to expand background checks for gun sales with a stipulation that local law enforcement agencies destroy records of the search once it’s complete. Opponents say transaction records would essentially provide a foundation for a registry of gun owners.

  11. Bill, like it or not the voters, the people, the tax payers of Washington State spoke. They want background checks, big deal! Criminals, and the mentally insane can not purchase weapons legally. So, yes they can probably get them illegally and one day those providing weapons to these type of people will be caught and prosecuted. As long as you’re not a criminal, happy hunting!

  12. What is the penalty for selling without a background check? Until the seller is held jointly responsible should the buyer perform an act of violence with the weapon sold, the law is ineffective. No background check? You go to jail with the purchaser. THAT is a law with enough teeth to begin curbing the wrong people from getting weapons.

    To forestall all the push back, I held a FFL for 20 years. I bought and sold thousands of weapons – legally. Take all the NRA bullshit talking points and flush them.

  13. The dems did not get spanked in WI not just this time but all the prior times, Mr. Walker’s election, reelection, and recall election because of the NRA. Dems lost because they 1) could not field a candidate who could find their way out of a wet paper bag, and 2) could not find a voter who could peel their lazy *ss out of a chair to go out and get an id. They lost in the libtard strongholds of Milwaukee and Madiistan. Seems the good folks of WI are tired of being p*ssed on and told it is raining. After Doyle and company we are a bit tired of being robbed blind and then told we are not doing enough for anyone. Can’t keep squeezing that stone and still get blood no matter how hard you squeeze.

  14. You are correct Shiva. They ran on the assumption that the general populace was as vacuous as they are. They bet on the wrong horse and got spanked.

  15. And you think Walker isnt? The massive tax breaks to corporations that starting next year you will have to pay for? The nice little 1.8 billion budget shortfall that has to be made up, the horrible jobs record, the education that has went from one of the best to not near beat at all?

    Talk about “libtards” all you want, but its you thats been taken

  16. Everyone forgot that criminals don’t buy guns from licensed dealers or private sales in Washington State, they will steal guns and buy or trade stolen guns and these will end up at a school shooting near you. All you did was pass a false hope to make parents feel better and to make the public feel safe… such a waste of effort when all we need is to make the penalties stronger and make Judges give the maximum sentence when needed, so I suspect nothing will change now and criminals still have an open playing field and we don’t.

  17. I know the NRA sent you hear with that utter bovine excrement but taking Columbine out of it all the guns used in mass school shootings were legally bought. I know you going to say what about those gangbangers. That’s just your inner Jim Crow who doesn’t want to face reality on who commits most school shootings
    Pattern in shooters:Most are white men

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