Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

One Year Later, No Reports Of Prosecutions Under Wash. Background Check Law

Michael Saechang
Flickr -
There have been no reports of arrests or prosecutions since Washington's voter-approved background check law for private gun sales went into effect.

Washington’s voter-approved background check law for private gun sales has been in effect for a year. But so far there’ve been no reports of arrests or prosecutions.

Opponents say that shows the law is ineffective. Supporters disagree.

According to FBI data, more than 4,500 private sale background checks were conducted in Washington state between March and November of this year. The FBI does not report how many of those would-be buyers were rejected.

But in about 2 percent of the cases, a subsequent background check was performed on the seller. The FBI said that indicates the would-be buyer was ineligible and the dealer wanted to make sure the seller could legally have the gun back.

Sponsors of the law can’t point to any criminal prosecutions. Still, they say, the law is working because background checks are now being conducted on thousands of private gun sales a year

Opponents say “the only discernible impact of the law has been to inconvenience honest gun owners.”

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."