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Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (courtesy

“Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said county prosecutors would talk with local law enforcement to decide whether to prosecute [gun owners under the proposed “universal background check” law]. The association isn’t making an endorsement in the campaign, but Barker said, for him personally, ‘I wouldn’t view someone handing a Glock over to someone else to shoot off a few rounds and then hand it back as a transfer.'” Semantics triggers opposition to I-594’s gun-sale checks [via]

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    • Kind of reminds me of one argument for may issue. Gives more discretion to the issuing, or in this case prosecuting, authority. Problem with that theory is it gives too much power to one man or one office.

  1. And who cares how he would view non-transfers. History shows over and over again laws will be abused by prosecutors with an agenda. The law must be written so as to guarantee the desired enforcement, and nothing else. That’s worked out well, hasn’t it? What part of “shall not be infringed” provides room for interpretation?

    No new antigun laws. No additional power to the state/fed.

  2. An unenforced law dangles over the citizen like the Sword of Damocles.

    Today the sheriff says “we won’t be enforcing law X in situation Y.” Tomorrow, or next week, or next year, that same sheriff (or the newly elected sheriff) says, “Oh, that was then, this is now. Here are your new bracelets, please have a seat in the back of my car.”

    Unenforced laws should be repealed outright.

    • “An unenforced law dangles over the citizen like the Sword

      Unenforced laws should be repealed outright.”

      On TTAG I often find a better quote of the day than the one proffered by the writers in the QoTD comments. Looks like today is no exception.

  3. ‘I wouldn’t view someone handing a Glock over to someone else to shoot off a few rounds and then hand it back as a transfer.’

    OK. He might not. But what about his successor? Or what if six months from now he changes his mind? The law is the law and if passed, this is just one more that you could easily break without criminal intent. It also creates a hostile environment for those that wish to exercise this important right.

  4. I wouldn’t view someone handing a Glock over to someone else to shoot off a few rounds and then hand it back as a transfer. *

    * subject to change at the whim of the government

  5. The initiative doesn’t spell out any length of time for a transfer that would require a background check. Therefore, you have to take it at face value. All transfers (minus a few exceptions) must have a background check. I don’t trust this guy or any other cop to look the other way if they see a couple of people shooting together. Unless, of course, it’s a couple of off-duty cops out shooting. (Police are not exempt when they’re off-duty.)
    I, also, don’t trust the prosecutors to show discretion, either. The prosecutors of Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties all support this initiative. The next time they’re up for re-election, we need to vote their asses out.
    NO on I-594. YES on I-591

    • the fact that 594 calls out a *specific exemption* for self defense, clearly shows that those who wrote 594 intended ALL transfers, no matter how short a duration, to require a background check. 594 exempts the temporary transfer only for the duration of the threat. temporary possession of mere seconds would require a background check under 594, and that is its clear intention.

  6. So what you’re really saying with the current language is:

    – No firearms training
    – No rental ranges
    – No ability to compare using friend’s firearms
    – No firearm sales, since simply handing someone a gun in a shop would apparently constitute a transfer.

    “We trained our officers to use common sense and learn what the intent was,” Pierce said.

    Really? How’d that work out for police in Ferguson?

  7. 594 really perplexes me. I have several NFA items, and the only thing that constitutes a transfer, is me not being in the general vicinity of said item(then it is an illegal transfer). All the “propaganda” for “NO to 594” makes it seem like just handing a gun to someone is a transfer. Is the proposed law actually written this way? Or is it being blown out of proportion?

    • The language in the law makes specific exemptions, like being able to pick up someone else’s gun to protect yourself if you are in immediate danger (paraphrasing here), but there is no language to indicate that handing your shotgun to your son while shooting clays on the back 40 wouldn’t land you in jail. It’s a poorly written law that, even if you agree with UBC’s and are a gun owner, may put you at risk for prosecution even if you had no criminal intent.

      • Poorly written as a law, yes, but actually quite well written as a pernicious gun-controller prohibition. There’s a difference.

        • True enough. I believe most legislation that infringes on our rights (all of our rights) rely on the “It’s a feature, not a bug” principle.

        • It’s apparently based on Bloomberg’s template UBC text. I’m pretty sure his team of lawyers spent months trying to make it as confusing, broad, and open to abuse as possible.

  8. I know Maryland’s laws explicitly define a ‘rent’ as a temporary transfer in which the firearm leaves the premises, so things like renting a gun at a range do not require background checks. ‘Transfer’ isn’t as well defined though, so it does seem to be illegal to borrow a friends handgun while at the range.

    I really hate this state sometimes.

    • “transfer” is actually extremely well defined in 594. it is so well defined that they call out specific exemptions for temporary transfer for self defense. but it is only exempted for the duration of the threat.

      there is no exemption for loaning your grandfather your gun on private property for recreational shooting. it requires a background check when you hand your gun to him, and background check on you when he hands it back to you.

  9. Other states, like CA and CO, where this same infringement has been passed, specifically exempted transfers of certain periods, such as less than 72 hours. The drafters of this initiative modelled this piece of [work] after those, yet specifically left out a tight definition of “transfer” or any quantifiable exemption period. That’s not an oversight. Then the proponents go around claiming that opponents of this infringement are just employing scare tactics. Well.

    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, who gives a duck what it actually might be? It’s a sneaky weasil way of infringing freedom with a quiet little sleeping ticking timebomb of vague language, specifically intended to confuse and intimidate people into not exercising their rights. Anyone in law enforcement shrugging this off as much ado about nothing is a disingenuous little freedom thief hoping people won’t notice until its too late.

  10. He hit the nail on the head for us in Washington. I hand off my AR or M9 to a trusted friend, or someone else, (as we swap guns to shoot) while we are at the shooting range for him to shoot is not a transfer, or anything that needs a background check because he will hand it back when done so I can shoot.

    • Sure, you and I know that sharing a gun with a friend while out shooting isn’t a transfer. The problem is, the proposed law doesn’t specifically say that. It’s written vaguely enough that an overzealous cop or prosecutor can really ruin your day if they so choose.

    • under 594, if you do it on public or private land you do need to do a background check. only “established” shooting ranges are exempted.

  11. When a law includes that are not clearly defined, ultimately the courts will define them, but not until someone gets arrested who has the means to pursue such judicial definition. And if the courts don’t rule in his favor, he has now lost twice. If the courts do rule in favor of the arrestee, it’s a terrible waste of public resources.

    This why it’s simply bad government to pass legislation with undefined terms, and another reason for everyone to oppose I-594 regardless of their stance on gun control.

  12. “Barker said, for him personally, ‘I wouldn’t view someone handing a Glock over to someone else to shoot off a few rounds and then hand it back as a transfer.'”

    Well, that is mighty white of Mr. Barker. And we should trust Mr. Barker, his peers, and his successors because … why?

  13. I appreciate his opinion, but his personal views don’t really matter in this instance. As long as someone, somewhere in washington can be prosecuted for a BS reason under I-594, it should not pass.

  14. Illinois doesn’t suck so bad huh Curtis? This looks like something from a European country. Yuck.

  15. Ballot initiatives are usually not many pages long. The organization that wrote this one clearly has competent lawyers working for them, so if significant ambiguities are present in the text of the initiative, they are highly unlikely to be unintentional.

  16. All good comments.

    We all know how prudent and proper LEO is in their application of laws…and I would trust my freedom to backroom deals between LEO and DA’s….when pigs fly.

    I can only hope as many of peoples representatives read this law before signing as those commenting here…but I doubt it.

    • It’s an initiative, so you can remove all doubt. People will read, at most, the short description, then vote yes.

  17. I wonder if Mr. Barker would support a law that would leave the decision of whether his normal, everyday activities were felonies up to the whims of law enforcement and prosecutors? Would the assurance that they don’t mean it that way be enough for him? Would it be enough assurance to live under that law for the rest of his life, even though he can’t know who those law enforcement officials and prosecutors will be?

    I would honestly love to know the answers to these questions.

  18. I do not trust these treasonous, bile-spewing supporters of this initiative one bit. They’re the type to slip a rattlesnake in your pocket and then ask you for a match.

  19. Semantics is the “b*tch” of the English Language. In legalese “transfer” implies “change of ownership”, but in common use, it can imply “possession”. “Possession” also implies “ownership” but alternately “temporary control of an item” one does not legally “own”.
    The language of this Law allows free-form conflation of these words at the whim of the LEO or DA and could put gun owners at risk of prosecution. The fact the writers left out specific time limits to definer temporary possession of a loaned firearm indicates sinister intent on their part. This law should not be enacted at all as it is an infringement on a Constitutionally protected right. Period. But if it goes forward it should not be passed without clarifying this ambiguous language.

  20. Dave Kopel said it best: what this law does is criminalize everybody, and leaves it up to the state to arrest and prosecute only those who “deserve” it.

    To the loathsome WAGR and their billionaire backers, freedom is only a loophole that hasn’t been closed yet.

  21. The transfer issue is getting the headlines, but even if that was well defined, the initiative still sucks. There’s no earthly reason to believe that UBC, even limited to actual sales, has any benefit.

    How many felons will this create when a couple of buddies want to engage in some horse trading?

  22. I have several friends that keep their firearms in someone else safe. One keeps them at her brothers house because he has a big safe and they live in an apartment. The other lives and takes care of his mom who can’t live on her own any more. Mom doesn’t want any guns in the house so he respects that and keeps them at another friends.

    I have taken the time to explain to them what this law will mean to them. I equate it to having to go to the car dealer to do a background check on your friend every time he wants to use your truck to make a dump run or use it to move for the day. Then go back to to the dealer to get YOUR truck back.

    One last point that hasn’t been touched on. If one takes a fire arm to a dealer for a transfer. The dealer has to log the firearm in to their ATF inventory book before they can perform a NICS check on the person receiving the firearm. If the person gets a NICS “deny” then the fire goes back to the owner. Well now it’s time to for the owner to get a back ground check. If the owner NICS check is a “deny” then the dealer has a gun in his inventory that is not his and cannot give it to the owner ether. Now the original owner wants it back and is pissed. This have happen to a local dealer I spoke too last month. NONE of the local law enforcement agencies including the ATF wanted anything to do with the gun. Some even laughed when he ask them to take possession of the firearm. For six months to owner call the shop every week to make sure they didn’t sell it. Finally the owner got his NICS problem appealed and got the firearm back. It was a nightmare for the dealer.

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