Negotiations between supporters and opponents of universal background checks have stalled, making it less likely that gun-control advocates will achieve their top legislative priority this session.
House Judiciary Chairman Jamie Pedersen said Tuesday that he and other supporters are moving on from a compromise offered by influential gun-rights activist Alan Gottlieb that had been seen as key to the proposal’s prospects.
Gottlieb’s support would help the bill, Pedersen said, but the activist’s request for lawmakers to end a de facto database of handgun owners was ultimately too much for law enforcement to swallow.
“We are continuing to look for support for this common-sense gun-control measure,” said Pedersen, D-Seattle. But “there’s no question” that challenge is now harder, he said.
With a floor vote expected next week, Pedersen said House Bill 1588 is still a few votes shy of what it needs for passage.
The challenge is harder in the Republican-controlled Senate, where leaders say the proposal is unlikely to get a vote.
The bill would require background checks for all gun purchases; now, they are required for sales by licensed dealers but not for purchases from private sellers.
Supporters see the checks as a way to make it harder for criminals to obtain weapons. Opponents see the checks as an ineffective and unconstitutional burden on law-abiding gun owners.
Gottlieb, of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said last month that he would support the bill if state lawmakers agreed to end the de facto database, a collection of transactions by licensed gun dealers.
Pedersen initially thought he could take the deal because he didn’t know of any use for the database.
But it turns out that law enforcement uses it thousands of times a month, including to track down the last buyer of guns found at crime scenes.