October 2, 2017 News

Alliance For Gun Responsibility Joins State of Washington in Defending Washington’s Universal Background Check Law in U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Hearing Held Two Years After Second Amendment Foundation’s Claim Dismissed by Lower Federal Court for Lack of Standing

Voters Overwhelmingly Passed Initiative 594 in 2014 with 59 Percent of the Vote

Seattle, WA—Today, a panel of judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from both sides in Northwest School of Safety v. Ferguson, the lawsuit brought by the Second Amendment Foundation and others against Initiative 594. Now state law, Initiative 594 closed a dangerous loophole in our law by establishing criminal background checks for all gun sales and transfers in Washington.

Since Initiative 594 took effect in December 2014, there have been at least 29,692 private background checks, including more than 11,500 so far in 2017. This has prevented 201 private gun sales to prohibited purchasers between December 2014 and April 2017.

“From the beginning, it’s been clear that the gun lobby’s ongoing lawsuit is unfounded. The courts upheld Initiative 594 once already, and now two years later, we have even more evidence that the hypothetical situations in question are exactly that–hypothetical,” said Renée Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “Since the initiative became law, we’ve seen smooth adoption by gun owners and dealers. The law is doing exactly what it was intended to do—help keep guns out of dangerous hands.”

The gun lobby, after losing their campaign to pass a competing initiative and weaken Washington’s gun laws, filed an initial complaint in December 2014. In May 2015, the U.S. District Court dismissed the gun lobby’s lawsuit, dealing a major blow to their effort to overturn the voter-approved background check initiative. The Judge ruled that background check opponents didn’t have standing to challenge Initiative 594’s voter-approved requirements for private gun transfers because they had not suffered injury or shown a risk of being prosecuted. The gun lobby appealed that ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the parties submitted briefs to the court.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature passed a bill that clarified the provisions of Initiative 594. The bill took effect on July 23, 2017 and clarified background check exceptions for suicide prevention, temporary transfers, employer to employee for business, loans between family members and antiques.

Washington State became the 17th state to require background checks on all gun sales and transfers when it passed Initiative 594 with 59 percent of the vote on November 4, 2014. It closed a dangerous loophole by requiring criminal background checks for all sales and transfers, including those made online or at gun shows. Since 2014, Oregon and Nevada have also passed similar laws requiring background checks on all gun sales.

The case is Northwest School of Safety et. al. v. Bob Ferguson, et al., No. 15-35452 in the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

About the Alliance for Gun Responsibility

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility works to end the gun violence crisis in our community and to promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities. Through collaboration with experts, civic leaders, and citizens, we work to find evidenced-based solutions to the crisis of gun violence in our community. We create innovative policy, advocate for changes in laws, and promote community education to reduce gun violence. Learn more at www.gunresponsibility.org and follow us at @WAGunResponsib.