When legislation passed last year to have the state buy back bump stocks, many of us in the Legislature had serious questions about the personal information obtained through participation in the program and what the state would do with it. It looks like our concerns were justified. Gun owners' personal information is potentially being released to the public via public records requests.
The Washington State Patrol received two specific requests for information pertaining to this program. It is safe to assume that if a person owned a bump stock, they most likely own at least one firearm. Remember, these are individuals who voluntarily turned in their bump stocks. They are law-abiding citizens who have committed no crime. Here is one of the information requests:
“This is a public records request. I seek to inspect any and all WSP bump stock buy back forms. I seek to obtain the names and addresses where checks will be mailed for the bump stock buy back program. My intent is to create a searchable database and map of Washington state to overlay the locations. The public has a right to know that these dangerous devices may have been in neighborhoods that the [sic] live in and who has previously owned such devices.”
In an effort to protect the privacy of those individuals who voluntarily participated in the WSP bump stock buy-back program, I introduced House Bill 2182 which will carve out a specific exemption from public records requests. Personal information should be protected and law-abiding gun owners should not be targeted for harassment, theft or discrimination.
After I introduced my bill and other lawmakers joined me in fighting this release of gun owners' private information, those making the request altered or rescinded their demands. While that is indeed good news, I intend to continue this fight as I'm sure it will come up again in the future.
As we approach the end of the 105-day 2019 legislative session, please feel free to contact my office with questions about this proposal or other state government issues. It is my honor to work on your behalf in Olympia for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.