Bill requiring background checks for all gun sales shot down

OLYMPIA — A bill requiring universal background checks for gun sales died Tuesday in Olympia after hours of deliberation in the Washington state legislature.

The bill, that would have mandated that all private gun sales would be subject to extensive background checks, failed to get the necessary support. Like many times before, the idea of background checks for gun owners proved controversial; for both sides of the aisle.

House Bill 1588, once considered the one gun-control measure with a chance of passing, lost support in the waning hours Tuesday, as at least one supporter backed out and the bill fell short of the 50 votes needed to pass.

The bill’s sponsor, Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, said earlier in the day he had the 50 votes necessary to get the measure out of his chamber.

“I feel very good that we have a bill that works and that will achieve its purpose of making sure that every sale of a firearm in our state involves a background check,” Pedersen said. “Over time, I think that is likely to reduce a lot of gun violence in our state, and it’s going to save lives.”

gunTo secure the votes of some wavering democrats, Pedersen agreed to add what’s called a “referendum clause” that will automatically send the issue to the November ballot. However, the Seattle Times reported that the clause ultimately turned off many of the bill’s original supporters.

“I think there’s a disconnect between what people think their constituents want and what the public polling indicates their constituents want,” Pedersen said.

In a crucial move, Maureen Walsh, R- Walla Wall, changed her mind after much deliberation. She said guns were a “way of life” in Eastern Washington.

“The more I researched it, it really became abundantly clear that sometimes the more laws we add it’s just kind of an exercise in futility.”

Walsh even received a call from Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona Congresswoman who was shot in the head in 2011.

Even if it passed, the bill faced an uphill battle in the Senate, where the conservative majority was unlikely to brink it up for a vote.

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  • gscott

    I was just watching the broadcast report on tv. The question the female reporter asked to wrap up: "what went wrong?" Hello, is your bias showing? Why isn't the question "what went RIGHT?"

    • kge1911

      Good point gscott! This is the first time I can remember celebration something the Legislature did (or in this case didn't do!)

  • oilypablo

    Really, really great news. WA can and will prove it's a state that actually believes in our Constitution (US and State!). It still bothers me that so many think the solution to mental illness is to go after innocent gun owners, but we need to keep up the good fight.

  • Bilbo2016

    Awesome good news! I sent at least 3 sets of emails to all the elected officials on this one and in every one reminded them that IF the approved and passed this law I and every other law abiding gun owner would work relentlessly for their defeat in the next election!

  • 2nd fighter

    I thought these reps swore to up hold the constitution. Then turn around and introduce bills knowing that it violates the constitution .

  • sleeper class

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m
    not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted
    to say great blog!