WA Gun Law Tries to Protect Domestic Violence Survivors

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A new gun law in Washington state that lets domestic violence survivors find out if their abusers illegally attempt to buy a gun has involved 1,231 denied applications, including 71 by people who are named in active protective orders, NPR reports. The law is believed to be the first of its kind; it requires licensed gun sellers to report failed background checks and gives people living under protective orders a way to receive an alert when someone named in a court order tries and fails to buy a firearm. The statute requires the Washington State Patrol to incorporate records on failed background checks into databases searchable by a wide range of law enforcement agencies.

Alliance for Gun Responsibility CEO Renee Hopkins says, “The information that their abuser is trying to buy a firearm could literally save their lives. She added, “It gives them the power to be able to plan for their safety and in most situations their children’s safety as well.” The law’s notification requirements apply to individuals who are barred from possessing firearms due to being named in stalking protection orders, sexual assault protection orders, harassment related no-contact orders, and domestic violence protection or no-contact orders, among others. A 1996 federal law made it illegal for people convicted of domestic abuse to buy a firearm. As incidents like the recent church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Tx., have shown, enforcement has sometimes been undermined by inconsistencies in record-keeping.

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