State senators have let the clock run out on a bill that would have informed law enforcement and domestic violence victims if felons or abusers tried to purchase firearms. The bill had wide support, from both gun rights and gun control advocates. Now that the state senate has run out of time to vote on this bill, there is only a slim chance it can be revived in the midst of budget negotiations. “One more year of not having this law makes my situation feel more precarious than it already is,” said Courtney Weaver, who was shot by her boyfriend several years ago. “I was putting eyeshadow on in my mirror, and I heard my cat hissing and snarling,” she said, “I turned around, I saw his Kimber 1911 .45 handgun in his left hand…My four-month old kitten just shredding his left arm, and he was left-handed. He ended up shooting me point blank in the face and the arm with his gun.” Weaver said her ex-boyfriend will get out of prison in two years. She said she fears that after he is released, he could try to kill her again. “The fact that they ran out of time, is really ironic, considering the fact that I feel like I’m running out of time,” she said. She said she was expecting this bill to pass since it had very little opposition throughout the entire legislative process. Even some gun rights advocates were surprised. Dave Workman, who works on the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said second amendment advocates tend to be suspicious that their rights could be restricted within bills meant to protect people. “This particular piece of legislation however, does not seem to have very many enemies. Gun owners don’t want wife abusers or domestic violence people to get their hands on firearms,” Workman said. He said very few people are actually arrested and prosecuted for illegally attempting to buy firearms. “In fact, you can get denied, and if somebody doesn’t arrest you and charge you, there’s nothing stopping you from going out and getting a gun through some illegal means,” he said. But Weaver said in her research and interaction with fellow domestic violence survivors, she has learned that abusers may only obtain firearms on the black market after exhausting other options, because of the higher cost.
Weaver said at least getting a phone call about when and where her ex may be buying a gun, would give her the information she needs to change up her routine and work on a safety plan with law enforcement.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility said there are about 3,000 illegal attempts to purchase guns in Washington State each year, mostly by felons who are ineligible.
KIRO 7 reached out to state legislators to find out why the bill was left without a vote and whether there was any chance of having it saved through budget negotiations. We will update this story if and when we receive responses.