SAF sues over Washington background check law

The Second Amendment Foundation and other gun rights advocates have set their sights on Washington state’s I-594, having filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging portions of the recently-passed gun sale background check law.

“We took this action due to the confusing and arbitrary language and nature of I-594,” Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the foundation, said in a statement. “Three of our plaintiffs, including my son, are residents of other states and cannot legally borrow handguns for personal protection while traveling in Washington.”

The background check measure requires all gun transfers be done through federally-licensed firearms dealers, but under the law, dealers cannot legally transfer handguns to residents of other states, Gottlieb said. The gun rights advocate also takes issue with the provision of the law that prohibits the non-resident plaintiffs from storing their own firearms in the state.

Also named as plaintiffs in the suit are the Northwest School of Safety, Puget Sound Security, the Pacific Northwest Association of Investors, the Firearms Academy of Seattle, the Gottlieb Family Trust and six individuals.

The suit names Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste as defendants.

The background check initiative took effect Dec. 4 after being passed by popular vote during the Nov. 4 midterm elections. An opposing initiative supported by gun rights groups across the country was voted down by the state.

Proponents of the law, like Paul Warden, mayor of Prosser, Washington, said that background checks keep guns out of the hands of criminals, citing the blocking of 24,000 attempted sales to felons and 6,000 to domestic abusers. I-594 also requires background checks at gun shows, a loophole gun control advocates have been looking to close for some time.

Gottlieb said he and the other plaintiffs aren’t trying to stop background checks, but the law penalizes law-abiding citizens and has to be reversed.

“This measure effectively infringes upon, if not outright prohibits, the exercise of their constitutionally-protected right to bear arms under the Second Amendment,” Gottlieb said.