A State In The US Will Alert Domestic Abuse Survivors When Their Abusers Try And Buy A Gun

This alert system in Washington will be the first of it's kind in America

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Next week will see a revolutionary bill, signed back in May, take effect. The bill, signed by Washington Governor Jay Innslee, will requite law enforcement to alert victims when their abusers attempt to buy a gun.

As you may or may not know, the National Riffle Association (NRA) has a particularly firm grip on gun regulation, attempting to ensure guns are as available as possible due to the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution.

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This Amendment reads, 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'

There are only three constitutions in the world that include the right to bear arms, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, and the US is the only one whose amendment does not include 'explicit restrictive conditions.'

That being said, some states have imposed the odd restriction anyway - such as this one which (sort of) restricts gun ownership for abusers.

Though loopholes remain for people to access guns without having a background check (for example at gun shows).

The Huffington Post reports that, at the moment, if someone is convicted of domestic violence or is under a protective order for domestic abuse, they will be asked to explain this when they attempt to buy a gun.

If that person denies this, the background check will go through, prove otherwise and the purchase will be rejected. This process is called a 'lie and try' attempt.

In January and December of 2016, the Trace reports that there were over 3,000 lie and try attempts and none of them were investigated.

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This new law will ensure all lies and tries will be followed up on.

The legislation requires firearms dealers and gun store owners to alert the Washington Association of Sheriff and Police Chiefs (WASPC) within five days of a lie and try.

WASPC in turn will notify the Washington State Patrol (WASP) who will log the information into an electronic database which law enforcement agencies can access, meaning domestic abusers will have their illegal attempt to access firearms documented.

Drew Hansen is a lawmaker behind the bill and he spoke to the Associated Press about why it is important these malfeasances are logged,

Never before in this state has there been a requirement that when some knucklehead goes to try to buy a firearm and knows he shouldn't have a firearm, that there's some followup on that," Hansen said. "We want there to be follow up on that. We want there to be criminal consequences if you knowingly illegally try to purchase a firearm.

The victims and survivors of the abusers will also be notified, so as to keep them aware their abuser has attempted to access a weapon.

Linda Seabrook, the General Counsel and Director of Legal Programs at Futures Without Violence, told HuffPost that notifying the survivors is also an important part of this legislation:

State and federal gun laws that prohibit an abuser's legal access to firearms, when enforced, are often enforced without the victim's input, and sometimes, without her knowledge or participation. Safety responses work better when victims are able to be part of the process, are informed, and are provided with some control

She clarified that victims are five times more likely to end up dead if their abuser has access to a gun, continuing,

The best person to assess an abuser's future dangerousness, as well as the lethality of the situation, is the victim. Knowledge is power and information is critical for her ability to assess her situation, and seek out assistance from a victim services professional to develop a plan for the safety and well-being of herself and her family.

This is a step forward in logical gun restriction that could save lives.

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