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Proof the last anti-gun measure was oversold and misleading

In 2014, Washington voters passed I-594 requiring background checks for gun sales. (AP)

About two years ago when proponents pushed Initiative 594, we were told that “… many guns are sold or transferred without a criminal and public safety background check, allowing criminals and dangerously mentally ill individuals to gain access to guns.” If you pass I-594, this would come to an end.

Nonsense. Their argument was a strategic bit of misdirection and now we have more proof.

Related: We can’t let our emotions restrict our rights

Two years after passing I-594, we just saw what is believed to be the first case filed resulting from this voter initiative.

KING 5 reports: 
Prosecutors charged Mark A. Mercado with “unlawful transfer of a firearm” – a Phoenix Arms HP22 handgun.

In charging documents obtained by KING 5 and public broadcasting’s Northwest News Network on Monday, prosecutors said Mercado sold his handgun on November 9, 2015.

It was used to murder 17-year-old John Skyler Johnson two days later.

First off, if only one case has been filed, it seems like I-594 proponents vastly oversold the number of times these guns were being sold to bad guys. Am I to believe only one bad guy aimed to purchase a gun without a background check in the last two years? If that’s the case, passing this law was hardly as urgent as proponents made it sound. But did the law suddenly stop the transfer of guns to bad guys? Probably not.

Which takes me to point two: I-594 doesn’t prevent bad guys from getting guns. It doesn’t force someone to conduct a background check. Indeed, Mercado allegedly transferred someone a gun without a background check. How’d he do that under I-594? This was supposed to be outlawed!

The law simply offers a mechanism to punish someone who doesn’t commit a background check. It doesn’t prevent it. Yet, the way it was sold was to fool you into thinking somehow as a result of this law, bad guys will suddenly be scared into following the law. It was a dishonest sell.

As I said two years ago, I-594 was never about stopping the sale of guns to bad guys. It was about inconveniencing gun owners while scaring you into thinking we live in a state with a “gun violence epidemic.”

And when you pass a law that you think makes sense (and it does; I support universal background checks – I just don’t like when activists lie to me about their laws), but then a gun death occurs, you’ll wonder what more can be done. That’s when the anti-gun folks swoop in, exploit your fear and push another law that they’ll oversell. You see, if you keep passing these laws, they get one more step closer to their end goal: making gun ownership so onerous it’s impossible.

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