Washington to Alert Domestic Violence Victims of Attempted Gun Purchases

It will become the first state to inform those protected by court orders if their abuser fails a NICS background check.

Washington will become the first state to inform those protected by court orders if their abuser fails a NICS background check during an attempted gun purchase.
Washington will become the first state to inform those protected by court orders if their abuser fails a NICS background check during an attempted gun purchase.web photo

A controversial new gun control law in Washington will make it the first state to alert victims of domestic violence if their abuser tries to purchase a firearm.

According to this story from thinkprogress.org, the law is part of a broader bill that requires sellers to alert the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs after someone fails a background check.

Here’s how it works: if a person attempts to buy a firearm but fails to pass a NICS check, they will be plugged into a police database as well as a notification system for all victims of domestic violence and sexual violence who have court protections, the story says.

The bill also establishes a grant for investigations into anyone attempting to illegally buy a gun, the story says.

The story also says that legislation like this helps plug loopholes in federal laws meant to protect victims. For instance, by federal law nobody convicted of even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence may purchase or possess a firearm, but this doesn't apply to dating partners, unless they have a child in common with the victim or were co-habituating—commonly referred to as "The Boyfriend Loophole."

Under the new law, an individual can lose their Second Amendment rights even though they may never have been convicted of domestic abuse, since a conviction isn't necessary for a protective order to be put in place.

“They may get arrested, but they get it knocked down to a lesser charge or they don’t get convicted because they make some deal so having it exclusively apply to someone who is convicted is a problem in and of itself,” said Julie Owens, an expert domestic violence consultant.