Bill to put background checks on private gun sales hits snag

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A new poll shows a vast majority of Washington voters favor background checks for gun purchases. However, a state bill to put background checks in place has hit a snag at the state legislature.

The vote could come up later Tuesday night or over the next few days, but gun rights advocates still are not on board because of the state's list of gun purchases.

The fear is that this will ultimately lead to gun registration.

As gun sales surge along with applications for concealed pistol licenses, proponents of background checks have been getting closer to getting a vote on the state House floor.

They'd like to get more support, or at least no opposition, from gun rights leaders. But opposition still looms due to the state database that tracks pistol sales. Second Amendment advocates want the state tracking system eliminated. But the Association of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs were there in force supporting both background checks and keeping the Department of Licensing list.

"We use it every day to make sure the right people have guns and the wrong people don't," said the association's Don Pierce. "And we don't support doing away with that particular file."

The chiefs and sheriffs say that file can help solve a crime and reunite a stolen gun with it's rightful owner. State Representative and Seattle Police officer Mike Hope said nearly half of felons in prison say they got their guns through private purchases, currently not covered by background checks.

"So we want to make sure we prohibit felons and the mentally ill from obtaining guns," Hope said.

But fellow Republican and sheriffs deputy Brad Klippert fears this will all lead to gun registration. And only law-abiding citizens will follow this if it becomes law.

"And those people who are purchasing guns illegally on the black market and committing crimes against their fellow citizens are not going to obey this law, just like they don't obey the ones we have now," Klippert said.

But a new Stuart Elway poll shows that 79 percent of Washington residents favor background checks in all gun sales.

The bill's chances of passing in the state House are said to be quite well, but its fate in the State Senate is less certain.