Submitted by Sen. Brian Hatfield, Rep. Dean Takko and Rep. Brian Blake of Washington's 19th legislative district.
On this November's ballot, Washington state voters will be asked to approve or reject ballot measure Initiative 594, which calls for expanded background checks on most firearms transfers, including loans and gifts.
We are voting "No," and we want to share our reasons with our constituents.
In 1997, voters were asked to approve a similar measure, Initiative 676, and rejected it by nearly a 71% to 29% margin. We view the intent of the current effort behind I-594 in much the same way that voters did 14 years ago.
I-594 is not designed to reduce gun violence, but was drafted to take advantage of recent tragedies where (in all but one case) the perpetrators passed one or more of the background checks offered as a solution to gun-related violence in I-594. In our opinion more of what is already not working is not a solution.
As state legislators familiar with how legislation is crafted, we believe that I-594 is poorly drafted and creates criminals out of innocent citizens while burdening our law enforcement community with unfunded mandates that will take police off our streets and do nothing to reduce the violence we all abhor. As evidence of this we note that the several thousand men and women represented by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS) oppose I-594 and we have yet to talk with a sheriff in the 19th District or the state who does not also oppose I-594.
Additionally, the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association (WSLEFIA) is also opposed to I-594. Together with WACOPS, this represents significant law enforcement opposition to a measure that rank-and-file police and sheriffs deputies would be expected to implement and enforce.
We stand ready to work with those legislators and community members that desire actual solutions to the problem of violence in our communities and we were proud to support HB 1840, the Domestic violence bill, and HB 2164, the Juvenile Firearm Offenders legislation, during this last session. It is these types of well-crafted bills that will actually help reduce violence in our communities.
The vote this November is yours and we ask that you carefully read the 18 pages of I-594 and vote no.