Gun sell­ers ex­pect sales bump af­ter Washington vot­ers ap­prove new rules

The Olympian - - News - BY HEIDI GROOVER

The phone at Wade’s East­side Guns started ring­ing at 8:30 a.m. the morn­ing af­ter the elec­tion.

“The response to this is al­ways clas­sic,” owner Wade Gaugh­ran said of Tues­day’s de­ci­sive pas­sage of Ini­tia­tive 1639, one of the coun­try’s most strin­gent sets of gun reg­u­la­tions. “Peo­ple will buy guns to beat the dead­line.”

Start­ing next year, Ini­tia­tive 1639 will raise the pur­chase age for semi­au­to­matic ri­fles to 21, the age cur­rently re­quired for hand­gun pur­chases un­der fed­eral law. Peo­ple buy­ing semi-au­to­matic ri­fles will be re­quired to pass an en­hanced back­ground check, prove they have taken a firearms-train­ing course and wait 10 busi­ness days to take pos­ses­sion.

The ini­tia­tive also au­tho­rizes the state to re­quire gun sell­ers to add $25 to sales of semi-au­to­matic ri­fles to fund the new reg­u­la­tions. A “safe stor­age” pro­vi­sion makes it pos­si­ble that gun own­ers could face crim­i­nal penal­ties in some in­stances if their firearms are ac­cessed by some­one who is not legally al­lowed to have them, like a child or felon, and who then causes the gun to dis­charge or uses it in a crime. The pro­vi­sion doesn’t ap­ply if the gun was se­cured with a trig­ger lock or sim­i­lar de­vice or if the owner had re­ported it stolen within five days of the theft.

Gun sell­ers who spoke to The Seat­tle Times said they ex­pect an in­crease in sales of semi-au­to­matic ri­fles and pos­si­bly gun safes, but it’s too early to say just how sig­nif­i­cant that in­crease might be.

“We have seen an uptick in sales since the pass­ing of the law and ex­pect it to con­tinue,” Jody Lewis, owner of Rehv Arms in Cov­ing­ton, said in an email.

Two days af­ter I-1639’s pas­sage — and the day af­ter a gun­man in Cal­i­for­nia killed 12 peo­ple, then him­self — staff at Wade’s tended to a steady trickle of cus­tomers. Be­hind the counter, the wall was lined with an ar­ray of semi-au­to­matic ri­fles that will be af­fected by the new law. A cus­tomer pick­ing up an AR10 he had or­dered a few weeks ear­lier called I-1639 vague and poorly writ­ten. Above the door, a sign asked cus­tomers in bold black and red let­ters: “You just bought your gun. How do you plan to LOCK IT UP?”

“We will see peo­ple speed up their gun pur­chases,” Gaugh­ran said. “[Buy­ers will say] ‘I’ll buy the next year or two of my gun bud­get in the next few months just so I can by­pass this law for as long as pos­si­ble.’ ”

Tall­man Trask, a spokesman for the Al­liance for Gun Re­spon­si­bil­ity, which ad­vo­cated for the ini­tia­tive, said his or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­knowl­edges that new reg­u­la­tions can some­times lead to in­creased sales but ar­gues I-1639 will not lead to any “oner­ous re­stric­tions” on gun pur­chases.

“What it re­ally boils down to is peo­ple are a lit­tle un­sure of how to re­spond to new reg­u­la­tions and they go out and buy new firearms,” Trask said. “It’s un­for­tu­nate.”

Gun deal­ers said they’re also await­ing clar­ity from state reg­u­la­tors on cer­tain el­e­ments of the new law, in­clud­ing the train­ing re­quire­ment. Gaugh­ran said his store may de­velop a “quick test” to ad­min­is­ter at the counter or on­line.

The law states buy­ers must show they’ve com­pleted a “rec­og­nized firearm safety train­ing pro­gram” in the last five years that cov­ers is­sues like han­dling, stor­age and sui­cide preven­tion. The train­ing must be spon­sored by a law-en­force­ment agency, col­lege or univer­sity, na­tion­ally rec­og­nized or­ga­ni­za­tion or firearms train­ing school, ac­cord­ing to the law.

What­ever uptick in sales lo­cal gun sell­ers see from I-1639 could be tem­pered by na­tional trends. The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump had re­port­edly caused an on­go­ing slump in gun sales.

Ja­son Cazes, owner of in Belle­vue, said he in­creased his in­ven­tory in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a Hil­lary Clin­ton pres­i­dency.

“Here’s what drives sales in the gun busi­ness: the pos­si­bil­ity of reg­u­la­tion coming or fear in the world,” Cazes said. “This summer was the worst summer I’ve ever had in sales.”

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