Ill-conceived WA. State Background Check Initiative Already Causing Absurd Outcomes

Museum Guns
Museum Guns

Charlotte, NC –-( Barely two weeks after Washington State voters approved Initiative 594 — a measure the NRA warned was “deeply flawed” — our predicted consequences are beginning to emerge.

Under I-594’s restrictive language, a person simply handing his or her firearm to another is presumptively required to broker this “transfer” through a gun dealer.  This also necessitates the accompanying background check, fee, paperwork, taxes and, in the case of a handgun, state registration.

Proponents of the initiative had assured voters that fears of this overreach were exaggerated.  Prior to the vote on I-594, Geoff Potter, spokesman for 1-594 proponents Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said I-594 “simply applies the current system of background checks to all sales.”

As recounted in a Washington State news report, however, the Lynden Pioneer Museum has opted to pull eleven loaned WWII rifles currently on display and return these firearms to their collector owners before the “transfer” requirement in I-594 takes effect next month.  The reason?  The law contains no exemptions for firearms loaned for museum displays, or loaned for similar educational or cultural institution study or uses.  Once the law takes effect, the firearms could not be returned to their owners without the mandatory background checks and all the logistics and expenses that entails.

The museum director in Washington came to this decision reluctantly but unavoidably.“I read through the law about 10 different times looking for a loophole,” he said.  He found none.  Unfortunately, there is no guidance at the state level because Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has reportedly not formed an opinion about I-594, and no authoritative interpretation of the initiative is available to the public, apart from the text of I-594 itself.  In the meantime, the museum’s attorney has stated he would welcome assurances from the state that it would not enforce the law to the detriment of the museum or the owners of the firearms on display.

To date, however, no such assurances have been forthcoming.

For his part, Geoff Potter, according to the Associated Press, now states that the museum scenario “is clearly not what was concerned when I-594 was designed,” and added, “You can’t craft every possibility into every law.”  The fact that advocates of I-594 ignored warnings by NRA and others of the measure’s overreach, however, tells a different story.  These consequences can hardly be considered unforeseen, and perhaps, unintended.  While even the staunchest supporters of the law do not appear to be arguing that the museum mishap somehow promotes public safety, it does serve their overarching goal of marginalizing the role of firearms in American life and history.

While we await news of other embarrassing and counterproductive consequences of the law, what is already obvious is that this poorly thought-out and badly drafted law goes too far, and will disproportionately, unnecessarily and unfairly burden law-abiding firearm owners.

Supporters of I-594 have indicated they will use the momentum from the Washington State vote to pursue similar “background check” campaigns in other states, including Nevada and Oregon.  Yet if I-594 in Washington is good for anything, it is to painfully illustrate how the gun-control agenda leads to the chilling of innocent conduct, potentially creates criminals out of decent people, requires the willful suppression of reason and reality, and has little to do with public safety.  Above all, it counsels that I-594 is a bad decision to be corrected, not one to be replicated in other states.

NRA is committed to doing everything we can to fight I-594 on behalf of our members in Washington State. We are already in discussions about legislative remedies to the most onerous provisions. As always, we will continue to work in whatever arena is realistic – legislative, legal or political – to address the concerns of our members.

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit:

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We need businesses to be ethical and tell non firearm friendly states that the products delivered will be the same quality as the civilian market. Problem is greed , but you know what Alaska will buy all the 22lr you got. Why I don’t know but it’s popular.

john smith

The big money people, the uninformed feel good voters, and our elected officials in OLY. have gone to far. Freedom and a chance of being a criminal must be delt with in a survival mentality. We as gun supporters need to take ANY action necessary to preserve OUR freedom. LET seattle become its own state and those whiners can follow BERTHA to its future underwater grave. gates, Bloomberg, allen, hanauer you all are one day closer to dieing like the rest of us. DO NOT take away My freedom so you can feel good.


We as gun supporters need to quit using the services and products of the people who support gun control. This needs to be done as much as we can Nationally and internationally. Hitting the pocketbooks of these millionaires ” that have body guards” MONEY is the only thing they understand. Write more letters to OLYMPIA telling them they will be voted OUT. I am NOT a criminal , but if they force my hand I will do what I have to do to have my freedom preserved. Make seattle a separate state, would be a great start. Stop big money… Read more »

Winston Smith

The only thing washinton can “register” is a few million middle fingers, my own included. The next step is far worse and it is coming near. Here is a hint. Investing in lamp posts and hemp rope in Olympia Wa., or Washington DC is looking like it will have a higher rate of return than anyrhing WallStreet has had to offer in a very very long time…… Yes you might say it is a “budding investment opportunity” in the future of our nation. 🙂


I really wonder if once the first poor soul tripped up with this deceitfully marketed and conceived law has won his case, assuming no other sins, could sue the progenitors for Civil Rights violations. If should be done…and for the net worth’s of everyone who contributed more than a nominal sum of say $10 to the funding in a class action suit for their attempt to deprive the individual of their civil rights enumerated in the Constitution. Why not, it works for the DOJ to get a second shot at someone who has, in their opinion, escaped “Justice” in… Read more »


Where the HELL was the nra when WE needed them ? HUH ?

Steve Garnett

This WA 594 seems to have rendered my FFL 03 null and void. I went through a stringent check by all kinds of law enforcment and records check that is much more intensive than 594 calls for. but that doesn’t matter. more expense and checks for me if I choose to continue pursuing my hobby of collecting Mosin Nagant rifles.


Go on vacation to Alaska , Firearm sales are normal here. We sell to any law abiding citizen. Except NY cuz they aint allowed to buy. Few other states ban buying in other states.


The Initiative needs to be repealed. Gates and Bloomberg bought an outcome that is not needed, wanted, or helpful. I was at a gun show last weekend and couldn’t help but feel that Liberty took a big hit. The Billionaires want this part of life gone, and they don’t care how many people are hurt to accomplish it. “The existence of a right is all a person needs to exercise it”, and I imagine Bill and Michael are yukking it up as they talk about how stupid Washington voters are. When you have enough money you can buy all the… Read more »