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Government Agency Feels Brunt Of Increased Gun Permit Applications

Alexandra Kocik
Northwest News Network

LACEY, Wash. – Thousands of gun owners plan to rally in Olympia and Salem Friday. They’re showing their support for the second amendment and opposition to gun control proposals. The rallies come as gun sales in the Northwest are brisk -- and so are the required background checks.

At the Aging and Disability Services office in Lacey, the fax machine drones on and on.

This is where police agencies from around Washington send requests for mental health background checks for people looking to buy a gun. There was a big spike in these requests, after President Obama won reelection. And then, the number of incoming faxes nearly doubled after the massacre in Newtown, Conn.

It used to be that two people could do this job. Now seven more employees do it in addition to their other tasks.

Kathy Howard is the receptionist here. She now spends up to six hours a day working through the growing stacks of papers.

“Spokane will send us 30 pages of 30 to 40 names per page," Howard says. "And that’s every day. So, it’s a never ending, labor intensive job.”

Under Washington law, these mental health background checks have to be done within five days. If not, the gun buyer receives a weapon regardless of their record.