Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Felony Gun Registry Law Hardly Used

Brett Hondow

Two years ago, Washington lawmakers created a registry for individuals convicted of a gun-related felony. The law was sold as a way to improve police officer safety by creating a database just for them.

But it’s hardly being used.

In the first year the law was in effect, 1,300 adults and juveniles were convicted of offenses that would qualify them for the registry. But according to the Washington State Patrol, fewer than 90 names have been entered into the registry. And that’s over the last two years.

Mitch Barker from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs said he’s not surprised.

“There’s just been no discussion of this bill at all,” he said. “There wasn’t within our organization really at the time and there hasn’t been since.”

The lawmaker who sponsored the bill in 2013 was a police officer who’s since left the legislature -- and the state.

The law lets judges decide who must register, but directs them to consider the person’s criminal history and evidence of the person’s propensity for violence.

The president of the Superior Court Judges Association said he’s not heard or seen anything to explain why judges aren’t using the database more.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."