Washington State Registry? I Guess PA Isn’t Alone

I too am surprised that Washington State has a gun registry, but it sounds like the kind Pennsylvania has, where they just co-opted the state background check system to compile one, despite assurances that such a thing would never happen. It’s even in the law! I wouldn’t be surprised if Washington State took some advice from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which in the case of ACSL v. Rendell, said even though it’s a list of all the guns you’ve ever bought, it’s not a “registry,” like the kind the law forbids, it’s only records of sale.

I’m always rather surprised that people on the other side of this issue get shocked and indignant that we don’t trust them. If they are assuring you that X will never be used for Y, you can probably take it to the bank that it will. It proved too tempting for our State Police, and the Rendell Administration was willing to push the courts to fudge the definition in its favor. Despite the fact that this case was decided in 2004, few in either the Governor’s mansion or the Legislature have shown much interest in a fix. We at least are still getting a bill introduced, but there hasn’t seemed to be much interest in moving it forward.

15 thoughts on “Washington State Registry? I Guess PA Isn’t Alone”

  1. I guess the govt never considered that some people MAY have bought guns BEFORE this crap started.


  2. IF there is no paper trail, why get one started? Estate sales are a good place to look for no trail to you.

    1. Well, for Pennsylvania, there are no private sales of handguns, so all handguns here are papered unless you inherited them from a parent or grandparent. It’s been that way since the 1930s.

      1. It was also my understanding that those moving into Pa from another state did not need to “paper” their handguns. (Of course, it is only an academic point, as hardly anyone ever actually moves INTO western Pennsylvania)

  3. The applicable law is here.

    My understanding of the law is that you fill out a form when you purchase a handgun from a FFL. This form is sent to the state. There is no requirement that you do this for private sales.

    At one point it was my understanding that the forms were being stored in a warehouse in Olympia and never computerized because there was no budget for it. Apparently that has changed.

    1. This is correct. The retail seller has to file a form for all handgun purchases. It’s not a gun registry, not even a handgun registry, as it ignores all private transfers–and even non-private transfers in that a retailer taking a pistol in tradein, though they have to file a secondhand-acquisition report to their local LE agency, do not have to send anything to DOL until the handgun sells again at retail.

      I can’t begin to estimate the number of WA handgun owners who have specifically sought out private sales of handguns just to ensure they have some handguns the state does not have record, even on paper, of every handgun they possess, but without a doubt it’s a fairly substantial number.

    2. Kirk is correct, on all points.

      I will only add, what sale records that are on file are available to LE (at least to the State Patrol) over their wireless network, so they can identify gun owners during patrols.

      In large part, this record keeping is what motivated the fight against the “background check” legislation pushed by the grabbers earlier this year. Which one of my state representatives actually called a “gun registration bill” in an e-mail to me … … and that representative was a co-sponsor!

      Said representative had a sudden change of heart after the e-mails started rolling in. I wonder why.

  4. Its interesting you bring up PA HB 1430, as I checked to see how many co-sponsors it had and came up with about 32 Reps. Now according to the link below. the PA House “2nd Amendment Caucus” is made of a bi-partisan coalition of 75 House Reps. So begs the question, where are the other 40+ members of this 2nd Amendment Coalition pushing this piece of legislation within the PA House Judiciary committee where its probably sitting and decaying a slow legislative death? Hmmmm….


  5. “I’m always rather surprised that people on the other side of this issue get shocked and indignant that we don’t trust them. If they are assuring you that X will never be used for Y. . .”

    I think their attitude can be analyzed as, they believe in their hearts that we had no right to ask for something so unreasonable, so, why should we be so surprised when a promise — even a promise cast as “law” — isn’t kept? They look at us as little kids who were promised ice cream to get us into the car, but an hour later, we shouldn’t still be expecting ice cream.

    Speaking of being lured into the car, in my Never Forget role, I need to remind that it was the NRA who in 1995 used the “no handgun registry” promise to help entice us into accepting Act 17 of that year, which they dubbed The Sportsmens Omnibus Anti-Crime Bill, on behalf of their buddy/endorsee Tom Ridge, and listed it as one of that year’s It-Was-A-Famous-Victory wins, in the October issue of the members’ magazines. I wish I had better documented how I told everyone the registry ban would never be enforced, as all the “reasonable” Second Amendment mavens dismissed me as crazy and too cynical to live.

    The Movement gets too soon old, and too late smart. If ever.

  6. Ah the ol’ non-registry registry argument. Gotta love how courts weasel their way out of protecting rights and following the law.

  7. One thing I am confused about; I read a statement (somewhere in this string) that you can’t CCW with a handgun not registered to you. I know that wasn’t true when I had one here years ago – but is it true now?


  8. ” but is it true now?”

    No, unless they sneaked one past me.

    If it is true, I’m in big trouble, because there aren’t any handguns registered to me. Never have been, probably never will be. It would sort of make a permit pointless.

    Actually, at one time you were required to give the make and serial number of at least one gun you intended to carry, as part of the application process. I wouldn’t have a permit until that requirement was dropped. My guns didn’t carry any heavier in those days than after.

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