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Tipsheet

WA State Officials: We're Going After Firearms Dealers That...

AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

Those who follow the gun control debate closely have had their eyes on Washington State. Ever since I-1639 passed in November, the issue of the initiative's constitutionality has been called into question. The National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation filed lawsuits over this very issue. Some Sheriffs believe the initiative violates the Second Amendment, which is why they've refused to enforce the law. Their refusal has sparked death threats and even letters from Secretary of State Bob Ferguson (D), threatening to prosecute those sheriffs who refuse to perform background checks. Ferguson also said those sheriffs can be "held liable if there is a sale or transfer of a firearm to a dangerous individual prohibited from possessing a firearm and that individual uses that firearm to do harm."

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Now another letter is making its way across the state, this one to Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), threatening them with similar legal action. According to the Seattle Timesthe letter, co-signed by Ferguson and Gov. Jay Inslee, was sent to 262 gun dealers in 13 counties where the sheriff refused to honor the new gun control law. 

According to the letter, FFLs who fail to comply with I-1639 would be violating state law, which could impact their license and lead to federal criminal charges. In addition, Washington State could also investigate and prosecute the gun deal with state criminal charges. 

"It is our responsibility to defend the constitutionality of initiatives enacted by the voters, and we are confident that we will successfully perform the role in the same way that we defeated the constitutional challenge to Initiative 594, which expanded background checks," the letter reads. "You are certainly entitled to agree or disagree with the policy decision made by the voters in enacting Initiative 1639, but that does not change the obligation to comply with the law."

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When I-1639 passed it:

• Raised the age someone can purchase a rifle to 21.
• Created an "enhanced background check system similar to what is used for handguns."
• Required a person to complete a firearms safety training course.
• Created a common standard for secure gun storage.

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