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Opponents of Washington gun law lack standing, federal judge says

Gun laws are often a hot topic in Washington State. In the Spokane area, many local residents own a weapon either for recreational purposes, such as hunting, or for personal protection. No one wants to face a weapons charge for violating gun laws; however, according to the Second Amendment Foundation, which is based in Bellevue, one of Washington's newer gun laws is so vague that it might not be understood properly.

The law in question, which was passed last November, created universal background checks for most gun transactions in the state. The requirement includes sales at gun shows, online gun sales and transfers of guns such as gifts or loans. There are exceptions for hunting gun loans, gifts from one family member to another, certain emergency-related transfers and antique guns. The specifics of the relatively new law might sound confusing, which is why multiple plaintiffs have challenged the law since its passing.

However, a federal judge recently threw out the plaintiffs' suit, ruling that they lacked standing to challenge the background check provision centered on noncommercial sales. The U.S. District judge noted that, in order to actually challenge the law, the initiative's opponents would need to show they've either been prosecuted or are at risk of being immediately prosecuted. For their part, the plaintiffs argue that the background check provision is overly vague and creates questions regarding whether or not simply handing someone a gun would require a background check.

While some law enforcement officials have noted that they would probably not prosecute someone for handing a gun to another person, the law's challengers argue that such a scenario could now be possible. Weapons charges can carry serious penalties in Washington if an individual is convicted of committing a crime. A criminal defense attorney experienced in gun rights can be a sound resource for information related to weapons charges and alleged background check violations.

Source: The Columbian, "Judge tosses challenge to expanded gun background checks," May 7, 2015

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