Domestic violence and abuse is one of the most sensitive issues in contemporary public discourse. Most people agree that violence against anyone, a family member or otherwise, is to be discouraged and punished through the law; however, there is a wide disparity in how those charged or convicted with domestic violence are treated after they are acquitted, serve time, or are released on parole. There are already a variety of protocols in place which make life extremely difficult for those convicted of a domestic violence charge. Now, in the state of Washington, a new law adds another layer of regulation to citizens who have been convicted of domestic violence in their past.
Anyone in the United States who has previously been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, or who is under a protective restraining order, is prohibited from purchasing any kind of firearm. However, many of these individuals, for various reasons, still attempt to purchase a firearm, and some succeed in doing so.
The practice of attempting to purchase a firearm, even though an individual is legally prohibited from doing so, is colloquially called a “lie-and-try.” In Washington in 2016, there were approximately 3,000 instances of these so called lie-and-try events. There was previously no system in place in Washington which was designed to regulate this practice of the illegal purchase of firearms.
Now, Washington legislators have passed a new law which requires that gun distributors alert law enforcement any time an individual fails to pass a background check when they attempt to purchase a firearm. They are required to alert the Washington Association of Sheriffs And Police Chiefs (WASPC) within five days of the attempt to purchase.
In addition, the new laws state that the attempt to purchase the gun by someone convicted of domestic abuse must now be reported to the victim of the convicted crime. It is technically a crime for someone convicted of domestic violence to attempt to purchase a firearm. Washington will therefore create a grant program for investigations into these attempts to acquire firearms, which “will fund a statewide notification system that will alert any registered person when an abuser attempts to buy a firearm but fails the background check.” In enacting this legislation, Washington is becoming the first state to require the reporting of such information to the state and to the victim of the crime.
The consequences of a domestic violence charge can be severe and long lasting. If you are facing such a charge, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the possibility that your life could change forever. It is important to remember, however, that a charge is not the same as a conviction, and that there may be a way to fight the charges and move on with your life. Call us today to consult on your case.