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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Shea calls for repeal of gun sale background check law

OLYMPIA -- Gun rights supporters, most of them openly carrying their weapons, gather on the steps of the Capitol Building for a rally on Jan. 13, 2017 (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)
OLYMPIA -- Gun rights supporters, most of them openly carrying their weapons, gather on the steps of the Capitol Building for a rally on Jan. 13, 2017 (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – Private gun sales would once again be exempt from background checks if a Spokane Valley legislator succeeds in repealing a two-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 ever four and a half days, Tallman Trask, a spokesman for the alliance, said.

Shea was among lawmakers who spoke to some 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 has already introduced, HB 1015, 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”.

HB 1015 has been refereed to the House Judiciary Committee, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

Another proposal Shea is cosponsoring would require the Department of Licensing to send a notice to a concealed weapon permit holder when that license is about to expire. HB 1100 is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday.

The 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 most other licenses or permits issued by the state, the Department of Licensing does not send concealed weapon permit holders a renewal notice. 

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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