Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Home Alone in Washington State

Friday, July 21, 2017

Back in 2013, when Washington State’s anti-gun groups rolled out Initiative 594, they promised voters this “universal background check” law would save lives by keeping “firearms out of dangerous hands” because private gun sales would be subjected to a NICS check done through a licensed dealer. Prior to the enactment of the law, representatives of the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the main proponent of 594, disingenuously described the measure as a “common sense” law that “simply applies the current system of background checks to all sales.” 

The NRA opposed this “deeply flawed” initiative because of the not-so-fine print. 

By regulating all firearm “transfers” as well as “sales,” the initiative law treats gifts, loans and other temporary changes in the possession of a gun as the equivalent of a sale. Only some kinds of “transfers” are specifically exempted from the background check process, including a “bona fide gift” (but not a loan) between a parent and child, and a temporary loan to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm.” 

Such transfers, though, are legally exempted only if the duration is restricted to “as long as immediately necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm.” Otherwise, these loans, like other “transfers,” must first be brokered through a licensed gun dealer, and require a background check, fee, government paperwork and tax, and, in the case of a handgun, state registration. Persons who rely on the exemptions have the burden of proving these as an affirmative defense at their trial, and those who fail to comply with the background check requirements face criminal penalties, including potential jail time;

These unnecessary prohibitions on family members sharing guns, and similar shortcomings in this law, were disparaged as “one-in-a-million” “extreme hypothetical examples” by the citizen sponsor of 594; as “absurd hypotheticals” by another supporter, and another proponent described the restrictions as just an “inconvenience for law-abiding gun owners.”

Life often imitates art, and like Kevin McCallister in Hollywood’s Home Alone movie, teenager Kimber Wood found herself living one of these ridiculously unimaginable hypotheticals this week. According to news reports, Wood’s boyfriend had called to warn her that sheriff deputies were looking for a suspected car thief who had escaped in the area. Ms. Wood phoned her father at work to ask if she could borrow one of his guns. He agreed, so she retrieved a handgun and went back to sleep. Waking up to find the suspect in the room with her, she was able to stop him in his tracks and make him leave by pointing her gun at him. (He fled, but not, apparently, without helping himself to the boyfriend’s ATV). 

The United States Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the core protection of the Second Amendment is the possession of firearms for self-defense in the home. Under Washington’s bizarre background check law, however, a father who wants to give his daughter a loaner gun for self-defense in the home must wait until it’s clear that there’s a serious and “imminent” threat to his child, and the gun transfer is “immediately necessary” (which should exempt the transfer from the background check law, but might not be quick enough to prevent harm), or undergo the background check process. Moreover, federal law prohibits licensed dealers from transferring handguns to persons under the age of 21, and long guns to persons under the age of 18. Because Washington’s law requires a licensed dealer to treat a private transfer as if it is a sale out of the dealer’s own inventory and follow all applicable federal laws, the result is that, unless some other exception applies, a parent cannot loan a long gun to a child aged less than 18 or a handgun to a child aged under 21.

Self-defense isn’t just a cute Hollywood plot line, and not all criminals are comical bandits who can be outwitted by children. For many Americans, there isn’t anything hypothetical about having to protect themselves while home alone. To quote Kevin McCallister, “This is my house, I have to defend it.”  We can hope that nobody in the Wood family is charged with a crime and all remains well.

Latest News

Nevada Bloomberg: Spotlight  

Friday, February 15, 2019

Nevada: Governor Signs Bloomberg Background Check Bill Criminalizing Private Firearm Transfers

Today, February 15th, Governor Steve Sisolak signed Senate Bill 143 shortly after the Nevada State Assembly passed this legislation ...

Nevada Bloomberg: Spotlight  

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Sneak Attack on Washington State

Did you know the Winchester 1903, a .22-caliber rifle that has a 10-round tube magazine, is a “semi-automatic ...

Associated Press  

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Nevada judge: State can't enforce 2016 anti-gun measure external link

Proponents should have known the measure "would be contingent upon the FBI's approval" for the federal agency to take over criminal background checks during private sales of firearms, Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy ...

Las Vegas Sun  

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Judge mulls Nevada gun buyer screening law passed in 2016 external link

It's not up to a state judge to tell the governor to enact a flawed gun buyer screening law that voters approved nearly 18 months ago, a top state government lawyer said Tuesday. "They're asking ...

Associated Press  

Monday, January 8, 2018

Governor, AG Call Nevada Gun Background Checks Law Defective external link

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Adam Laxalt are telling a judge that a strict gun background-check ballot measure that voters passed in November 2016 was defective as written and can't be enforced.

Las Vegas Review-Journal  

Friday, December 1, 2017

Nevada: Background check supporters, like Wolfson, still refuse to admit Question 1 mistake external link

Question 1 was the 2016 ballot initiative that requires background checks on private party sales. Despite supporters spending almost $20 million, voters only narrowly approved it last November. The organizers of the effort should have ...

Elko Daily Press  

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Nevada: Gun law backers too wily for their own good external link

The initiative backers — in order to avoid having a fiscal note saying what the mandatory background checks would cost taxpayers, something that might cost votes — wrote the new law to say that those ...

Las Vegas Review Journal  

Monday, October 23, 2017

Attorney General Adam Laxalt: Nevada’s Question 1 wouldn’t have stopped Las Vegas Strip attacker external link

The horrific massacre in Las Vegas was one of the worst displays of violence our state and our nation have ever seen. Yet as we continue to deal with the shock and the grief of ...

Nevada Bloomberg: Spotlight  

Friday, July 28, 2017

Poll Shocker: “Overwhelming” Support for More Background Checks is Actually Rather Underwhelming

Lacking evidence that gun control restrictions reduce crime or enhance public safety, proponents of such measures seek to ...

Nevada Bloomberg: Spotlight  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Home Alone in Washington State

Back in 2013, when Washington State’s anti-gun groups rolled out Initiative 594, they promised voters this “universal background ...

Help Us Defend The Silver State

Help us defend the Second Amendment rights of all Nevadans against Bloomberg's Gun Control Initiative.


Bloomberg isn't going to stop trying to take away your personal freedoms, so be sure to stay informed with the latest information.