A SIG Sauer P220 45 ACP semiautomatic handgun and four rounds - these are jacketed hollow-point rounds made by Federal.

Initiative 594 and guns in our hands

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By Andy CastroLang

Even the symphony is involved in the conversation!

Who knew?

Not me.

I went to the opening of the Spokane Symphony 2014-2015 season, and expected to be entranced by beautiful music and fascinating talent.

I didn’t think I would encounter Washington Initiative 594, the background check initiative we will vote on in November.

Yet, as Eckhart Preu led the orchestra on a Sunday afternoon in the haunting opening piece, “Noble Pond” written by Chris Rogerson, I couldn’t help but think about it.

Noble Pond” is a short, deeply moving piece of music composed in response to the death of a little boy hit by a stray bullet, as he was fishing with his granddad at a pond in Noble, Oklahoma.

The bullet came from a policeman’s gun, and it was a terrible, bizarre tragedy that no one could have imagined.

There is no direct connection between the symphony and the Initiative. But gun violence prevention is on our minds more and more. Our state, and every state, seems to be burdened with more and more gun tragedies.

So closing the loophole that allows the purchase of a gun without a background check seems a small step in the direction of greater gun safety.  There is no intention in this Initiative to step on anyone’s second Amendment rights.

This Initiative is about closing a legal loophole in Washington State that allows unstable citizens, and felons of violent crime, to access guns through unlicensed on line gun sales and unlicensed sellers at gun shows who do not do a background check.

It is about lowering the number of gun deaths among victims of domestic violence by 38 percent.

It is about lowering the number of gun deaths among our police forces by 39 percent. 

It is about recognizing that guns are powerful weapons, tools we can own and use.

But they are not to be used for the killing of one another.

Initiative 594 is about that.

Responsible hunters and gun owners, like my older brother and his 3 grown sons, who hunt for food and for sport, have already had the background check and paid their fees to own and use their guns.

This initiative is not about them.

My son-in-law in Texas has already had the background check and paid for a gun through a licensed dealer, he has taken the classes in gun ownership and safety, and can now own a “concealed handgun license” for his handgun.

This initiative is not about him.

This initiative does not impact the antique shotgun that is in your family and will be given to you someday by your grandpa.

It is not about that.

Nor does this initiative affect the fees you have paid and the background check that was done when you bought your gun from a licensed dealer.  That won’t change.

It is not about that.

It is about respect for human life and safety.

As a pastor, as a mom, as a human being, I believe human life is sacred.

At every stage, in every way…human life is sacred.

We should do all we can to protect and nurture these sacred human lives.

Initiative 594 should not be blown out of proportion by misinformation.  Please take the time to get the straight facts.

My family members will still own and control their own guns.

But the guy who robbed and pistol whipped my younger brother in Chicago, well, maybe he would not have been able to get the gun, with the help of an Initiative like this.

There are no guarantees here.

But common sense safety precautions around guns, a criminal background check to determine who can responsibly own these powerful tools…this is not something to fear.

It is something to do, now, for all of us.

Guns are powerful.

So is your vote.

Vote Yes on Initiative 594.

About Andy CastroLang

Andy CastroLang is senior pastor at Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ. She is deeply committed to civil discourse between individuals and throughout our community; in interreligious conversation, private conversation, intergenerational conversation and yes, even in political conversation. She has been a supporter of SpokaneFaVS since its inception because she supports this creative effort at thoughtful community conversation.

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  1. On Facebook, some of our readers are saying this initiative just goes too far. What do you all say?

    • Well-put, Andy. I’d love to see this bill pass, and I hope the political wedge that is gun legislation won’t do us too much harm as a community, in the meantime.

      I’m trying to make the leap of imagination to see this as some of my friends who oppose the bill see it: as the ongoing expansion of a menacing, totalitarian, cosmopolitan force that disrespects the values of self-sufficiency and independence. I think there’s a distrust, there, that runs very, very deep, and that’s a difficult gap to reach across. Thanks for trying to describe some common ground – I hope people are receptive to it.

      For the record, I own several guns, one or two of which required background checks in the time and place they were purchased. I understand that means I’m giving up a measure of privacy for the sake of public safety, and I still think it’s a good idea.

    • If it were just about backgrounds checks that would be one thing, but this is worded to CREATE more felons than to stop them.

      Under i-594 it would be illegal to do the following harmless activities that good, peaceful people do all the time in Washington:

      – Shoot your friends’ guns on public land (also called recreational shooting).
      – Shoot your friends’ guns on private land (again, recreational shooting).
      – Shoot your friends’ guns at any range that exists in reality.
      – Shoot guns belonging to family members unless your life is in danger (and only until the danger is stopped).
      – Shooting someone else’s gun when another person’s life is in danger.
      – A Firearms instructor using an adult student’s weapon to demonstrate techniques.
      – An adult student using a firearms instructor’s weapon to learn.
      – Holding a firearm for someone who is suicidal.
      – handing a firearm to another person while subduing a criminal.
      – buying a handgun without a CPL, even if it is for home defense and you never plan to carry it.
      – Police officer trying a fellow officer’s weapon.

      It would subject the following ridiculously complicated and, often, extremely expensive (sometimes more expensive than the value of the firearm) by subjecting them to a 10-day waiting period, use tax, and fees expected to be $50:

      – Storing a friend’s weapon in your gun safe.
      – Letting friends or family borrow a weapon to go hunting.
      – Loaning a family member a weapon for protection due to threats of violence.

      – Giving back a weapon that was loaned.

      If a woman escapes from an abuser, I-594 would prevent her from getting a handgun for protection for 40+ days, giving abusers plenty of time to get their revenge.

      If you inherit your grandpa’s service revolver from his days on the police force in the 1930’s, you had better act fast because you’ll need to get a CPL (30 days) AND a background check (another 10 days) and pay the fees within the limited time frame or you lose it.

      Police Officers are NOT EXEMPT from any of these unless acting officially as part of their duties.

      Let’s not also forget Section 11 that has NOTHING TO DO WITH FIREARMS OR BACKGROUND CHECKS!!! Section 11 is about expanding who has to pay sales taxes, and prohibits business owners from giving discounts or rebates to offset the additional cost. It also prohibits owners for paying the tax themselves!

      No, I-594 is about criminalizing gun users.

      • Elioron, I’m also confused by the language about requiring a concealed carry license, but it looks like it’s already in the language of that RCW 9.41.090 – meaning it’s not amended by I-594 in a significant way. (See this link: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.090)

        See the exceptions about firing ranges in I-594, too, because they are there. Your guess is as good as mine as to how they’ll be enforced, but I think there’s a good-faith effort NOT to criminalize sharing guns with a friend at a range.

        Your post spells out the important part of your reaction to this bill, though: if you believe the law is part of a bigger effort to criminalize gun users, and I believe it’s not, then we’re not going to see eye to eye just by debating what’s in the bill itself. So, what’s the common ground? I agree that regulatory burdens on lawful, everyday activities are a bad thing, all other things being equal. But I also think that the way we do background checks isn’t adequate to achieve a real (and important) public-safety benefit, and I-594 is a step in the right direction on *that* problem. Can you see where I’m coming from?

        • There is no gun range in existence that has bee authorized by a governing body. There is no governing body, and no criteria in existence. Most are private, and not subject to government interference. I-594 could provide reasonable cause for private property to be searched at any time police hear gunfire to ensure I-594 is not being violated. That’s a stretch of the 4th Amendment I can’t agree with.

          It’s nice that there was a good faith effort, but it is not codified in the initiative. It doesn’t matter what people THOUGHT they were writing, what matters is what they wrote.

          You don’t need a CPL to buy a handgun. You only need one to carry it concealed. If I want to carry it openly, I don’t need a CPL. If I want to keep it at home for defense, I don’t need a CPL. I-594 does not allow delivery of a handgun to anyone that does not have a CPL, regardless of what they plan to do with it.

          • From looking at the RCW (here: http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.090), it really looks to me like that language is already on the books. I’m no lawyer, but from a few minutes scratching my head over this, I’m pretty sure the only amendment to 9.41.090 is the length of the waiting period, which changes from 5 days to 10.

          • RCW 9.41.090 (1) is an “OR” statement. It removes the waiting period completely. If you don’t have a CPL you can still buy the pistol, you just have to wait 5 days or gets approval from the police chief (whichever comes first – normally 5 days).

          • I have read through this at least 20 times and didn’t notice the “or” at the end of Sec 5(1)b until just now.

            I see that a CPL eliminates the waiting period, but not the background check. You can still buy the weapon without a CPL – I stand corrected.

          • Glad we’re coming to the same conclusion on that, at least – no wonder lawyers bill the bucks they do. 😉

  2. The author’s “older brother and his 3 grown sons”, would be criminalized if they did any recreational shooting on public or private land in which they shared firearms. I-594 re-defines, “Transfers” (25) “…. without consideration of payment or promise of payment
    including, but not limited to, GIFTS and LOANS.
    Section 4a lists the ONLY Exemptions as defined in I-594, and does not consider parents and their ADULT offspring as immediate family. Therefore a background check, transfer fee, use tax, 10-day waiting period (expanded from 5 and on side note recently ruled Unconstitutional in California for gun owners already known to the State.)
    would all be required for each firearm, and then the process repeated when said firearms were returned. There are no exemptions for either law enforcement nor those 400,000 plus Washingtonians who currently hold a valid license to carry a concealed pistol.

    Realistically this ends all recreational shooting Washington.

    • ML, I’m looking at the document you linked to. Where’s the point that adult children don’t count as immediate family? Also check out 4.b though 4.g, especially 4.f – the use of the word “organized” is vague, but it seems to carve out exceptions for temporary transfers on shooting ranges.

      Also, I don’t follow your point about people who hold concealed-carry permits. Under what circumstances could you cease to be able to pass a background check, from one purchase to the next, but still be eligible for a CCP?

      • Section 4A list the ONLY exemptions. “A transfer between immediate family members, which for this subsection shall be limited to spouses, domestic partners, parents, children (WA State defines this as under the age of 18), siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles,…”

        Unfortunately the shooting range scenario is also only between between spouses or domestic partners; “(ii) if the temporary transfer occurs, firearm is kept AT ALL TIMES, at an established shooting range. (i.e a rental gun.) as for “authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located” I honestly don’t even know what that means. In addition recreational shooting as I stated originally is neither a “organized competition”, nor “a organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance” as it relates to hunting or firearms training, which the latter by the way only exempts training/eduation to minors and not adults. Not to mention that loaning a gun for hunting is only exempted if you also are hunting with the person to which the firearm is loaned.

        • I disagree with some of your interpretations and geusses on how this law would be enforced, ML, but like I said to Elioron in another comment, that’s probably a secondary disagreement. Would you approve of a similar law that didn’t have the specific problems you’re talking about? Do you think there’s a reasonable compromise between inconveniencing the lawful use of firearms and controlling who has them? Where do you think we are right now, on that spectrum?

          • This would be a lot simpler, shorter, and have more support if it were actually about what they say.

            Require a background checks on all sales and gifts (not loans, or specify loans greater than 24 hours), then list exceptions including inheritance, family, hunting (with or without you being present), and people with CPL or Law Enforcement.

            Eliminate additional requirements, like for handguns.

            Eliminate section 11 since it has nothing to do with firearms or background checks.

            I think you’d find a lot more support. It would still be nearly unenforceable, but it would be a place to start the conversation.

          • Very cool – I can absolutely see what you mean. Where do we go after that conversation starts, though? I mean, I really think we need to change the way we invite the law into transfers of firearms. Do you agree or disagree? If my child or grandchild has a history of mental illness, is it appropriate for me to give her a firearm? If a friend-of-a-friend wants to borrow a gun for 23 hours and 59 minutes, do I have any responsibility to find out if he has a criminal record? If someone shouldn’t be allowed to carry a firearm in the city, do we still need to protect their right to go hunting?

          • It is currently illegal to give your firearm to anyone you think may be ineligible. It’s a felony under federal law.

            I can’t think of any circumstance where a person would be prohibited from carrying a firearm in a city without being prohibited carrying anywhere. A city can’t randomly take a person’s constitutional right without going through a due process. Anything that would deny them locally would deny them completely.

          • But, do you think the laws we have now are adequate, or not?

          • I think they need to be more consistently supported and enforced.

          • I can’t argue with that!

          • Consider that with I-594 and similar bills we are only adding a
            misdemeanor charge to what is already a felony. Add to that that the fact that criminals are constitutionally not required to identify themselves, meaning that they can’t be prosecuted for violating any law that would require them to do so. It means that criminals would not be prosecuted under I-594 – only under the existing federal law against a prohibited person buying a firearm.

            As for where we go, I think we need to put resources into enforcing and prosecuting existing laws. We need to go after straw purchasers and people who felons who buy. In 2010, there were over 600,000 NICS checks done. 72,659 came back as denied. Of those, there were 44 prosecutions and 13 convictions. That tells me that a) we aren’t prosecuting the people already abusing the system, or b) there are a LOT of false flags denying people that shouldn’t be denied. Personally, I think it’s a combination. If we’re looking into gun sales to stop crime, that’s our recourse. I think looking at the causes would be more effective, but it is also more expensive and unpopular.

          • Personally I sell very few guns over the decades, though I have loaned firearms to many friends for a variety of lawful reasons. I dont have a problem with NICS checks. However I rarely shoot at ranges, let alone with rental guns, I shoot with friends and family on private or multi use public property and have for decades. I do light gunsmithing work for friends routinely and thus handle their firearms. This criminalizes me, period. This legislation is so draconian I find the idea of some kind of future compromise inconceivable. It didnt have to be this way, but one side didn’t want to work with the other.

            “Alan Gottlieb, a prominent Bellevue Second Amendment activist, said he reached out to Hanauer through an intermediary to see if he’d discuss ways to make his background-check initiative more palatable to gun-rights advocates.
            Hanauer wasn’t interested. “I thought his response was a little arrogant,” Gottlieb said. “I don’t think he has any interest in meeting with people who don’t share his views.”
            Gottlieb is running a competing gun measure on the November ballot. Initiative 591 would prohibit Washington state from adopting any gun background-check standards stricter than federal law.
            Hanauer said by the time Gottlieb reached out, initiative backers were “on a fast track” to file the measure. He added that since Gottlieb has spent his career pushing pro-gun laws, he “was not someone we considered seriously” as a source for advice.”

            Thus here we are.

          • That’s a very real answer to my question – thanks. It sounds like “here” is a gridlock of people mistrusting each others’ intentions. That upsets me, first, because it means there’s a pretty weak dialog on a safety problem I care about. Second, though, I think you’re also telling me about a political or legal problem that’s important to you, which we’re also failing to debate in good faith.

            Maybe the best I can do in this conversation is to say that I believe in the integrity of your intentions. Here’s hoping politics gets wiser and kinder.

      • I forgot to add that currently those that hold a valid CPL (As it’s called in Washington.) may take delivery of a handgun immeadiately AFTER the completion of the NICS check at the purchase point, those without wait 5 days upon approval of the law local enforcement agency. (The same one that processed the CPL). This ends under I-594.

      • I think you’re referring to a CPL – not sure what CCP is (except Cyrillic abbreviation for Soviet Socialist Republic). There is no case where a person would not pass a background check and still have a CPL. Any offense that would make you ineligible to buy a gun would require you to immediately forfeit your CPL.

        • Yeah, that was my point (and thanks – I was just abbreviating concealed-carry permit). Maybe it was ML’s point, too – you’re saying there should be an exception for people who hold CPLs, because it’s redundant with the background check? I can agree with that, but the devil is in the details. If we say a dealer doesn’t have to do a background check, but they do have to verify the CPL, what’s the difference?

          • Paper trail. $50 each way. Use tax. Adding to the database. There is no reason for it.

            The CCP was more of a lighthearted joke. I didn’t see ml’s response when I wrote it.

  3. Love this conversation you’re having on here!

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