4 years ago, Washington State Ballot initiative 1639, like all gun control measures, was set to finally solve the problem of human beings killing each other. What was the cost of this important, life-saving measure you might ask? Surely whatever it is would be worth it. Well among other things for the low, low price of “An annual mandatory background check of every current gun owner in order to ensure they haven’t become violent felons in the meantime” an end to gun violence can be yours.
All that stood in the way was those awful gun owners, simple-minded puppets of the NRA who consistently voted to line the pockets of gun manufacturers, against their own interests. Beating all odds though, 4 years ago it actually passed, and nobody has died to gun violence since! Right?
Well, not exactly. Not only has it not made an impact on homicide rates, it hasn’t even been implemented. Washington state has (thankfully) made zero plans, let alone efforts, to actually implement the will of the voters and actually conduct annual background checks of existing gun owners. How exactly they would know who was a current gun owner, and thus subject to the law was never answered. Would the suspected gun owner would be required to go to a gun store and pay for the NICS check themselves? Would the government simply run their data through the system automatically on their birthday? The world may (hopefully) never know, but one thing is sure: after 4 years the WA state government certainly doesn’t. In fact the Department of Licensing, who was tasked with managing this debacle, determined that there was no feasible way to implement the scheme approved by voters.
4 years after the passage of this bill, WA state legislators, citizens, and even the citizen-sponsor of I-1639 are, often entirely unaware that their initiative languishes in limbo long after ballots were counted. The Office of the Governor admitted that it was effectively dead in the water with no legal avenue to implement it, but did so quietly enough that nobody seems to have noticed, even as they push for more gun control that, one assumes, must also have a chance of winding up drifting in space with no route forward in perpetuity.
People who are wholly ignorant of guns, drafting and passing legislation to restrict guns, with no understanding of the existing regulations on guns, or what the legal avenues to do so are, managed to write a regulation so unhinged from reality that it cannot be made to work? Who could have seen this coming? I suppose we’ll have to pass another law and wait 4 more years.