Mandatory Background Checks For Gun Sales Dies In Washington House

By Austin Jenkins

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A controversial proposal to require criminal background checks for most gun purchases appears to have died in the Washington House. That announcement came Tuesday night after two days of efforts to wrangle enough votes to pass the measure.

Washington Democrat Jamie Pedersen (left) worked with Governor Jay Inslee.For a time it looked like backers had the 50 votes they needed to pass the universal background check measure – if they agreed to send it to voters for final approval. But that referendum clause ultimately cost the bill more supporters than it won over. Prime sponsor Jamie Pedersen says some members of his Democratic caucus were worried about the timing of a public vote on background checks.

Jamie Pedersen: “Some of them very firmly believe that a referendum in 2013 being an off year and a low turnout year was not the time to take the risk.”

Pedersen wanted to close what he perceives as a loophole in Washington law. Currently licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks, but they are not required for person to person firearms sales at gun shows or elsewhere. Brian Judy is a lobbyist for the NRA. He says his members let legislators know in no uncertain terms that they feel background checks would have been a burden on law abiding gun owners.

Brian Judy: “Did the NRA kill it or did tens of thousands of Washington citizens who feel very passionately about their firearms rights kill it? It’s one in the same.”

Washington House Democrats note they did pass other measures aimed at reducing gun violence – including a requirement that people with restraining orders against them surrender their guns.

Photo: Washington Democrat Jamie Pedersen worked with Governor Jay Inslee to pass a background check measure. But in the end they did not have the 50 votes they needed

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