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State Rep. Matt Shea wants to repeal gun sale background checks approved by Washington voters

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 18, 2017, 11:21 a.m.

Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane, speaks last year at the Capitol in Olympia. An amendment from the state representative stipulates that state money can’t be spent for planning or constructing a roundabout on Trent Avenue as part of the Barker Road grade separation project. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane, speaks last year at the Capitol in Olympia. An amendment from the state representative stipulates that state money can’t be spent for planning or constructing a roundabout on Trent Avenue as part of the Barker Road grade separation project. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

OLYMPIA – Private gun sales would once again be exempt from background checks if a Spokane Valley legislator succeeds in repealing a 2-year-old initiative approved by voters.

Republican Rep. Matt Shea told a rally of gun-rights supporters Friday he will introduce legislation next week to repeal Initiative 594, which 59 percent of voters approved in 2014.

“We have to do this for the sake of our veterans and the sake of our families,” Shea said.

I-594 requires background checks for firearm sales made outside of stores, including many private sales and gun shows.

Renee Hopkins, chief executive officer of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which sponsored I-594, said voters made it clear in 2014 they support the checks.

“Legislators should represent the will of the people by directing their energies to policies that will further protect families and communities,” she said.

In the two years since the law went into effect, FBI data show 144 private sales have been denied, or an average of about one every 4 1/2 days, said Tallman Trask, a spokesman for the alliance.

Shea was among lawmakers who spoke to about 150 people – many of them openly carrying rifles or handguns – gathered on the steps of the Legislative Building. He told supporters if they stand up to the government, the government will back down.

He also defended another piece of gun legislation he already has introduced to prevent public or private stadiums and convention centers from prohibiting a person with a permit from bringing a concealed pistol into the facility. Most currently do prohibit attendees from bringing in concealed weapons.

Stadiums and convention centers are the most likely targets for terrorists, he told the crowd. But they can ban concealed weapons under the contracts routinely signed with local governments.

“Local authorities are contracting your rights away without any say from you. This right comes from God, not from anybody in government,” Shea told the crowd, adding that gun-free zones were immoral and “places of mass slaughter.”

Shea’s bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Another proposal Shea is co-sponsoring would require the Department of Licensing to send a notice to a concealed weapon permit holder when that license is about to expire. That bill is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday.

The Spokane Valley lawmaker has experience with that situation. In 2012, he was contacted by Spokane police investigating a possible road rage incident and had a handgun in the glove compartment of his truck, but an expired weapons permit. His attorney said the expired permit was a result of “normal forgetfulness.”

The misdemeanor charge from the incident was eventually dismissed.

Unlike notices to renew a driver’s license and other licenses or permits issued by the state, the Department of Licensing does not send concealed weapon permit holders a renewal notice.

A spokeswoman for the department said it doesn’t send renewal notices for concealed weapons permits because it doesn’t issue them, it merely keeps a record of them. They are issued by local law enforcement agencies.


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