Denied Firearms Transactions

During the 2017 Regular Session, the Washington State Legislature enacted SHB 1501, effective July 23, 2017.

The legislation places several requirements on Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs). One of those requirements is that FFLs report to WASPC each instance where the dealer denies an application for the purchase or transfer of a firearm, whether under RCW 9.41.090 or 9.41.113, or the requirements of federal law, as the result of a background check or completed and submitted firearm purchase or transfer application that indicates the applicant is ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law. FFLs are also required to report each instance where the purchase or transfer was initially denied, and then, was subsequently approved.

WASPC started collecting denied firearms transaction information from Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) on July 25, 2017. FFLs report this information to WASPC at www.wafirearmsreport.org

WASPC sends a weekly report to local law enforcement identifying where denied transactions have occurred. In addition to the weekly report of denied transactions, WASPC refers the following reports directly to local law enforcement, regardless of opt-in status:

  • If a firearm is transferred to the buyer because a “Deny” response was received after a “Proceed” response and the firearm was transferred to the buyer but has not been returned at the time of the report **OR** a firearm was transferred to the buyer as a result of a delayed background check with no response after ten days and the firearm was transferred to the buyer and has not been returned at the time of the report.
  • If the purchaser has any felony conviction adjudicated in Washington State after 1990.
  • If the purchaser is listed as the respondent in any active protective order issued in Washington State or entered into WACIC.
  • If the purchaser has already been denied the purchase of a firearm, makes another purchase attempt and is denied again in Washington State.
  • If the Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL/Dealer) contacts WASPC staff and requests that we take additional steps to ensure that the jurisdiction local to the purchase attempt is made aware of the situation.

WASPC conducts all of the work relative to this program through a secure online system. Please click here to create an account to access the Denied Firearms Transaction system and to receive emails relative to denied transactions. Access to the system is reserved for criminal justice purposes only. WASPC provides regularly scheduled training webinars on the Denied Firearms Transaction Program. Please click here to view the webinar schedule and to register. 

Statute does not require law enforcement to investigate these attempted transactions. However, RCW 36.28A.420 does provide funding for grants to support investigations. Each year, when funded, WASPC will distribute $150,000 in grant funds allocated to support investigation of these transactions. These grants will reimburse agencies $500 per transaction investigated. An additional $250 (for a total of $750) will be awarded for applications that indicate that the investigation resulted in a referral for charges to a prosecutorial authority, regardless of the outcome of the filing. Funds are state pass-through funds, through the Washington  Criminal Justice Training Commission. Grants will be available on a first come, first serve basis. To apply for grant funds, please login to the Denied Firearms Transaction system and follow the grant application prompts. Approved users, please click here to login to the system. 

For those agencies that choose to investigate these denied firearms transactions, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys has recommended the potential crime/charge under RCW 9.41.113(3)(c) (which requires the purchaser to fill out the federal forms). The penalty is found in RCW 9.41.115 (which makes it a gross misdemeanor to 'knowingly' violate). A gross misdemeanor first time; class C felony for second conviction - particularly with cases of repeated attempts to purchase which likely give us proof of 'knowingly'. Other options could include attempted unlawful possession of a firearm (RCW 9.41.040); forgery (RCW 9A.60.020); or false swearing (RCW 9A.72.040). Keep in mind: Law enforcement does need to provide identity proof and proof of knowing violation.

RCW 36.28A.410 requires WASPC to create and operate a statewide automated protected person notification system to automatically notify a registered person via the registered person's choice of telephone or email when a respondent subject to a court order has attempted to purchase or acquire a firearm and been denied based on a background check or completed and submitted firearm purchase or transfer application that indicates the respondent is ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law. The Washington Protective Order Notification system is available at www.registervpo.com. Service, expiration and denied firearms transaction notifications are automatically sent to registered persons regarding protective orders.

Per RCW 36.28A.405, WASPC is required to prepare an annual report on the status of WASPC responsibilities related to the denied firearms transaction program. Please click here to view the 2017 report. Please click here to view the 2018 report.

For additional information on the Denied Firearms Transaction Program, please contact the WASPC Projects and Programs Department at (360) 486-2414 or [email protected].