Thousands of times each year in the U.S., someone convicted of domestic abuse or subject to a restraining order seeks to purchase a gun illegally from a licensed dealer, usually without any consequences. On July 23, Washington will become the first state to require authorities to notify victims when such an attempted sale takes place, reports The Trace. The measure is part of a sweeping new law that seeks to crack down on all prohibited purchasers who attempt to buy firearms in the state, a practice known as “lie and try.” “Giving survivors of domestic violence the option to be notified if an abuser attempts to illegally purchase a gun allows them to more accurately plan for their own safety and the safety of those closest to them,” said Tamaso Johnson of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The law, which establishes a grant program to aid authorities in conducting investigations into failed attempts to purchase firearms, comes amid heightened attention to the danger posed by abusers armed with guns. The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning advocacy group, says that more than half of women killed as a result of domestic violence between 2001 and 2012 nationwide were killed with a gun. Other research had found that if a domestic-violence abuser has access to a gun, a victim is five times more likely to be killed. In Washington, 54 percent of the 678 domestic-violence homicides over a 17-year span were committed with firearms. More than half of those who shot intimate partners in domestic violence-related incidents in 2013 and 2014 were legally prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the shooting.