In April I consigned a handgun at the Hole in The Wall in Kennewick that I no longer needed. After three months it did not sell, so I decided to pick it up. Upon arrival, I was told that I needed to fill out paperwork and submit to a background check to pick up my own gun.
Due to the passage of I-1639, background checks that in the past went to the FBI and took about half an hour, now are sent the local sheriff. The sheriff then sends them to the FBI. Once the FBI receives the paperwork, it processes it and sends it back to the sheriff, who ultimately sends it back to the gun store. During this process, I am mandated to wait at least 10 days before I can pick up my own gun. This time it took 19 days.
This process is burdensome, expensive and a waste of time for the local sheriff. It also has no exemptions for honorably discharged veterans, currently serving military or law enforcement. While at the gun store, I was also advised that if I want to purchase a new AR-15, I will have to go through an extensive training course at my expense. I consider myself politically active and pay attention to initiatives and laws that are being proposed in Washington. This time I failed. I did not fully understand what was in I-1639.
After the employee at the Hole in the Wall explained I-1639, I was upset. You see, I served in a United States Marine Corps Infantry unit from 1984-88. My DD-214 states that I was honorably discharged, a rifle expert and graduated from Infantry Training School. I also have a Washington State Concealed Pistol License. Which used to allow me to walk into a gun store and leave after a quick check through the FBI NCIS System. This is the same system our neighboring states still use.
Why is our state penalizing law-abiding gun owners and local law enforcement with burdensome and time-consuming laws? Why were no exemptions put in place for those of us who are serving or have served our country or communities? I am curious what those who voted for I-1639 think I did while serving our country? The answer is simple. I handled weapons almost every day. That’s what Marines do for a living. The same goes for the rest of our military and members of our law enforcement community.
Most lawmakers in our state have to drive by a military base or law enforcement academy in order to get to Olympia. What do they think is happening on Fort Lewis, Fairchild Air Force Base, Yakima Training Station or the Washington State Patrol Academy? They are training with weapons. This training is the best on the planet. How is it that lawmakers in Olympia and voters who approved I-1639 think more training, supplied by people less qualified than our original trainers, is going to change anything?
It will change nothing. I-1639 is just another roadblock designed to make gun stores go bankrupt, and to make it more difficult for law-abiding Washingtonians to own guns. Our state needs to enact exemptions to I-1639 for those who have submitted to previous background checks via the FBI and military.
Our military and law enforcement training and background checks were good enough to serve the United States of America and our state and local communities. They should be good enough for the voters that approved I-1639. Please contact your state representatives, senators and local officials to ask them to make exemptions for those who have served or are currently serving.
Barry A. Bush lives in Kennewick.