Less than two weeks after a ballot measure was passed in Washington State making it more difficult to transfer a handgun to another individual, two local law enforcement officials said Monday they would not be “trap[ping]” citizens into violating the law.
I-594, a new law that went into effect on December 4 in Washington State, tightens restrictions on gun rights, including transferring handguns from one person to another. These are some of the concerns pro-Second Amendment advocates have with the new law:
- Every time a handgun is transferred, the person receiving the handgun will have their name added to the government database being maintained by the state Department of Licensing.
- Almost every firearm transfer, with very few exceptions, would be required to go through a licensed firearms dealer under the provisions of I-594.
- I-594 will specifically regulate transfers, not sales. In virtually all cases, a person merely handing his or her firearm to a family member or a friend cannot do so without brokering the transfer through a gun dealer with the accompanying fees, paperwork, taxes, and–in the case of handguns–state registration.
- I-594 doubles the state waiting period on handgun sales from five to ten days and extends it to every private transfer of a handgun.
- I-594 would create a government record of all lawfully transferred handguns in Washington state, which would facilitate their future confiscation.
About 1,000 rallied in Olympia to protest the new law last weekend. But Lewis County Sheriff-elect Rob Snaza and Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer released statements about the enforcement of I-594 on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page Monday, assuring constituents they would not be deliberately going after anyone who violates the new law. Snaza said:
“The enforcement strategy of our office will be to thoroughly investigate those cases reported to us, and file these cases with the Lewis County Prosecutor’s Office when appropriate. As I have previously advised, I am a strong proponent of the Second Amendment and each of these cases will be considered in regards to the spirit and letter of the law.”
Meyer echoed the sentiments of his counterpart in the Sheriff’s Office. “The Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will not make criminals out of the hardworking citizens of Lewis County. Where I-594 attempts to criminalize everyday activities, I, in the exercise of my prosecutorial discretion, will not charge individuals with these types of violations,” he said.
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The prosecutor added a cautionary note: “At the same time, make no mistake I will hold accountable those who, in violation of this initiative, knowingly put guns in the hands of criminals.”
Meyer told KOMO the reason they made this announcement is because “We wanted to make sure the citizens of Lewis County knew that we weren’t looking to make criminals out of ordinary citizens.”
“We’re not going to try to trap citizens into transferring a gun to a friend and then try to nab them on a violation of 594…That’s not what we’re interested in.”