I-594: common-sense? | Guest column

by Steve Henigson

Orcas Island

Recent TV ads promoting I-594 tell us that it will close a “loophole” which lets felons and other violent persons acquire guns at will, without going through any kind of background check or other control. In one example, the Gunbroker.com website appears as a background graphic, while the speaker tells us that you can buy a gun by just going online, going to a gun show or by meeting someone in a parking lot somewhere. Is this true?

If you believe that it is, I strongly suggest that you try it. You will be in for a surprise. There are several gun-sales websites, including Gunbroker.com, and to buy a gun through any of them, delivery must be made through a licensed gun dealer, and only after you have passed the legally required background check. You will find that the same method applies at gun shows, where the promoter provides the background-check service for the unlicensed participants at the show. As for buying a gun from some stranger in a parking lot, you need to know that law-abiding gun owners don’t behave like that. They will deliver only to someone known personally, or otherwise through a licensed dealer, because they are responsible and obey the law.

But, yes, you really could buy a gun from a stranger in a parking lot, without being bothered by the legal niceties. People who buy and sell guns this way are called “criminals.” A criminal, by definition, is someone who does not obey the law.

So let’s put all of this together. Passing I-594 will not prevent felons, the mentally ill and the violent from acquiring guns, because these people do not obey the law. So what good will I-594 do?

Did you know, by the way, that the three most recent gun massacres, in Colorado, Connecticut and California would not have been stopped by a law like I-594? The Colorado and California killers passed their background checks, in the latter case due to the inattentiveness of the local police, and bought their guns quite legally. The Connecticut killer stole the guns he used.

What, then, will I-594 do? It will burden and complicate the lives of law-abiding gun owners, but it will have absolutely no effect upon criminals or gun-crime. Under I-594, if my law-abiding friend wishes to borrow my shotgun temporarily, we will have to formally transfer it through a licensed dealer, which includes a 10-day waiting period; and then, when he gives it back to me, we will have to go through the same process again. How, exactly, will that stop crime?

Now, somebody might say, “I don’t like guns, or the people who own them. So why should I care if their lives are burdened or complicated?” But someone who voted to pass I-594 for that reason would be a bigot, right? And nobody wants to be a bigot. Please vote “No” on I-594.