Emergence of a well-funded gun control group this week made me wonder about a rumored boom in recent gun sales.
More than a rumor: the Department of Social and Health Services, which checks for serious psychiatric history during a gun-buyer background check, can barely keep up with the workload, according to spokesman Thomas Shapley.
(Decoder for the jargon: DSHS’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery processes requests from Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA)). His email:
In November, following the presidential election, the number of requests that DBHR was receiving began to surge. Since the tragedy in Newtown, it has become a landslide.In one day, December 26th, DBHR received more than 800 faxed requests from LEAs. Each of these requests represented anywhere from one or two names to hundreds of names. The number of requests dropped off slightly in January. but continues to exceed our previous rate of requests by two or three times and surges again each time there is media coverage of an event that implies that the ability to purchase firearms may be restricted. This additional workload has been absorbed by enlisting the help of existing staff and allowing staff to work overtime.
In all, DSHS handled 35,000 background checks in January, after averaging about 16,000 to 20,000 a month in 2012.
A universal background check bill, House Bill 1588, is pending in the House. I also wrote about an editorial this week about the need for a streamlined database of psychiatric history for gun-buyer checks.
This excellent chart shows by the Guardian that Washington has gun laws which looser than Texas.