In 2016, 3,259 people in Washington State attempted to purchase a firearm despite being prohibited from possessing one.
“That’s what scares me the most . . . victims like me, who have tried so hard to make my life safe – my children’s lives safe, and I don’t even get a courtesy call.” – Paula, Pierce County domestic abuse survivor.
Those words were in response to a joint KING 5 and public radio’s Northwest News Network investigation that found her boyfriend’s name among those of 200 others who attempted to buy firearms at Pierce County gun stores during a 13-month period. (Ingalls, Chris. “Victims not notified when abuser tries to buy a gun, investigation finds.” King5.com).
Luckily for Paula, her boyfriend failed the background check and the sale was denied due to a permanent protection order put in place by a judge 20 years ago. But neither people like Paula, nor law enforcement, receives consistent notification when a prohibited person is denied the purchase of a firearm.
That’s why we’re supporting Law Enforcement & Victim Safety legislation.
Why Law Enforcement and Victim Safety?
Background checks on all firearm sales are already the law in Washington State, but it is critical to community safety that law enforcement officers have the tools they need to follow-up when someone who is prohibited, tries to illegally purchase a firearm. When an individual prohibited from possessing a firearm attempts a firearm purchase, it can be a signal that they are intending to harm themselves or others. This is critical information for law enforcement officers who may come into contact with the individual and for past victims to increase their safety measures.
How Will It Work?
Law Enforcement and Victim Safety legislation will will help safeguard the lives of officers, and give domestic violence and other survivors the information they need to protect themselves. Here’s how:
- Create standards for investigating and prosecuting failed background checks.
- Increase officer safety by giving officers real-time access to information about whether someone has illegally attempted to purchase a firearm.
- Give domestic violence and other crime victims the ability to receive notifications when an offender illegally attempts to purchase a firearm so they can take proper precautions to keep themselves safe.