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Universal background checks bill is dead; gun bill talks had bogged down the House for most of day

Post by Brad Shannon / The Olympian on March 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm with No Comments »
March 13, 2013 5:03 pm
Rep. Jamie Pedersen
Rep. Jamie Pedersen

House Democrats’ search for 50 votes to pass a bill requiring universal background checks for gun buyers has died. That’s according to a Twitter post a few minutes ago from Democratic Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma.

Efforts to get a deal  on House Bill 1588 tied up the House for at least eight hours Tuesday, bringing the Democrat-controlled chamber to a halt one day before bill cutoff. Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen of Seattle led efforts to get more than the 47 votes he’d reported having on Monday, and one approach would have sent  the question to voters in November.

Pedersen later confirmed Jinkins’ message, telling several reporters – who tweeted his comments shortly after 8 p.m. – that there were not enough votes.

For background on the battle, see this story filed a little over an hour ago by Mike Baker of The Associated Press, who followed the tortured talks that ground along Tuesday.

An  excerpt:

Gun buyers currently must undergo a background check when they purchase a weapon from a federally licensed firearms dealer. Pedersen’s proposal, crafted in conjunction with Republican Rep. Mike Hope, would extend background checks to cover private gun transactions.

Under the bill, people who already have proper law enforcement credentials or a valid concealed pistol license would already have the proof needed to complete a private gun purchase. Those who don’t have such documentation could go to a licensed gun dealer or local law enforcement agency, then pay a fee and get a background check.

Hope, a Seattle police officer, has expressed concern that criminals are bypassing the current system of background checks and acquiring guns through private transactions. He said the proposal won’t stop gun violence but would make it harder for criminals to get weapons.

The proposed referendum clause didn’t help speed the measure through the state House, as supporters spent much of Tuesday counting votes and trying to determine whether the bill would pass given a variety of proposed amendments. The bill would then have to get through the state Senate, including a committee controlled by gun-friendly lawmakers.

Indeed, the bill faces steep hurdles in the Senate and was not considered likely to go anywhere.

Update on Tuesday evening post: Mike Baker’s followup story for Wednesday papers is here.

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