Senate surprises with vote on firearms bill

The Washington state Senate gave new life to a bill targeting illegal gun buyers when it took a surprise floor vote on House Bill 1501 Thursday evening.

HB 1501 had sailed through the Washington House, but when it did not make it to a Senate floor vote by the usual cut-off last week, supporters thought it was doomed.

Members of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility made personal visits to Senators this week pushing for a vote in the waning hours of the legislature's regular session.

The bill targets the thousands of prohibited buyers who attempt to buy firearms in Washington each year. These would-be buyers fail criminal background checks and generally do not receive a firearm.  However, lying about eligibility on an application form is a state and federal crime.

An investigation by KING 5 and public radio's Northwest News Network found that police and prosecutors do not pursue these cases, even though attempted buyers could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime. Prohibited buyers have felony or domestic violence convictions or mental health issues.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge, says the bill now moves to a re-vote in the House because of amendments that the Senate made. If approved, it then heads to the Governor Jay Inslee's office to be signed into law.



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