by Mad Rocket Scientist
In the next election, Washington state will be voting on two ballot initiatives of particular concern to me, I-591 and I-594.
I-591 is a given for me, but I-594 has me concerned. I don’t oppose the idea of background checks, per se (I question their efficacy, but find them for the most part a mild inconvenience), but a lot of the oppositional rhetoric I hear suggests that I-594 goes too far and would require background checks between all transfers except for a few very narrow exceptions.
For example, in WA, it is legal to go shooting at a designated range, but it is also legal to go shooting in the wilderness (which there is lots of in WA state). There are places in the wilderness known as “shooting pits”, which are longer range and have very solid backstops (usually areas that are flat but have a very tall hill at one end which has been clear cut by a timber company recently – makes for a good long range shooting area without having to worry about where your rounds go). These are un-official shooting ranges, which the Forest Service knows about and encourages people to use.
I often go to these shooting pits with friends, and we all have a very good time (shooting is a very social activity). I also take new shooters to such places, since it’s easier to talk and give instruction when you are not in an enclosed space and required to wear hearing protection at all times. Such activities often involve the sharing of firearms. I let the newbies try my weapons, and my friends and I all swap weapons regularly because each model is a different experience.
From what I am reading, I-594 makes no exception for such sharing of firearms. Every time I would let a friend shoot one of my guns, technically we would need to do a background check unless we were at an official range or competition shooting event. Likewise with hunters, who could, by the wording of the initiative, only be able to share firearms in designated hunting areas (so I could not have a friend drop by my house and borrow my rifle, I would have to meet him in the forest and give it to him then).
So, here is my request. For our legal eagles, by your reading of the initiative, are these fears legitimate, or overblown rhetoric (keeping in mind that prosecutors are rather well known for trying to convict people on whatever interpretation of a given law they can wring out of it). For anyone else who may support universal background checks, can you make an argument encouraging me to support this law?