COLLEGE PLACE, Washington – Starting Monday, laws and regulations related to firearms will change in Washington state as a result of voter-approved Initiative 1639. One big change is that anyone under the age of 21 cannot purchase semi-automatic weapons under the new law.
Local law enforcement will be responsible for performing background checks on all pistol and semi-automatic assault rifle purchases, a process that College Place Police Chief Troy Tomaras does admit is a bit concerning.
“This is new for us,” Tomaras said. “We’re still trying to figure out how much time that’s going to take for us to do, man hours and all that. So these are some things we’re still trying to figure out. We don’t know what kind of burden that will be.”
Tomaras said that under the new rules, there can be no sale or delivery of a semiautomatic assault rifle without proof of training in the last five years.
“This one is really interesting because we all thought that it was in order to purchase a semiautomatic weapon after July 1 that you would have to have this training, but it’s also to possess a rifle,” Tomaras said. “So if you already possess a semiautomatic rifle, you need to take this training.”
He said the department is trying to decide whether it is supposed to provide training for the community as there are requirements as to who can provide the training.
In addition, the waiting period is longer at 10 business days after purchase or application.
Another change establishes criminal liability for not storing firearms safely. Tomaras said that was a hot button issue. It’s not as far reaching as some thought.
“There is no criminal act if theft of a firearm is reported to law enforcement within five days, so we have some clarification on that,” Tomaras said.
Under Initiative 1639, as part of the annual verification of eligibility, the state will require federal firearms license holders to be charged up to $25 for purchases and transfers of semiautomatic rifles. Revenue from those funds will go to Washington’s mental health institutions and other healthcare facilities.
That change has Tomaras stymied.
“Here’s a problem,” he said. “Is DOL going to do the verifications each year? Are local law enforcement going to do this? How are we going to do that? Because we can’t constitutionally keep track and records of weapons transactions. So still there’s some things we have to figure out. There are some unknowns out there. We’re trying to work through that.”