About Initiative Measure No. 594

Initiative Measure No. 594 concerns background checks for firearm sales and transfers.
This measure would apply the currently used criminal and public safety background checks by licensed dealers to all firearm sales and transfers, including gun show and online sales, with specific exceptions.

Criminal and public safety background checks dramatically reduce access to guns for criminals, domestic abusers and other dangerous people from buying firearms. But in Washington State, only guns bought from licensed dealers are subject to a background check. This is a loophole in our law that allows criminals to buy guns from strangers – in parking lots, on the Internet, and at gun shows – with no questions asked.
Initiative 594 closes this loophole in Washington State by requiring that private sales and transfers —including those at gun shows or on the internet— go through the same background check process as sales through a licensed gun dealer.

Simple and Accessible Process:

  • The initiative is simple: it makes sure that anyone buying a gun in Washington State passes the same background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter whom they buy it from.
  • When a private seller and buyer arrange to meet in person to conduct the transfer, they would meet at a licensed dealer, instead of in a parking lot or another public place.
  • The buyer and the licensed dealer would proceed as if the buyer were trying to purchase from a dealer. The buyer would complete the proper forms, and the dealer would call in the background check—in the exact same way as if the dealer were selling a firearm from its own inventory.
  • This initiative simply has private sales go through the same process people have been using successfully for years when purchasing from a licensed dealer.
  • This is an accessible process. 98% of Washingtonians live within 10 miles of a dealer. In fact, there are twice as many licensed gun dealers in Washington as there are US post offices.
  • Private parties complying with the background check requirement are exempt from sales tax.

Reasonable Exceptions – background checks are not required for:

  • Gifts between immediate family members
  • Antiques and relics
  • Temporary transfers for self-defense
  • Loans for lawful hunting or sporting activities


Firearms purchase/delivery requirements

Handgun purchase without CPL Handgun purchase with CPL Rifle or shotgun purchase with or without CPL
State application to transfer pistol or revolver required Yes Yes Yes
Federal form 4473 firearms transaction record by dealer Yes Yes Yes
Local LEA conducts background check, including federal disqualifiers under NICS Yes LEA conducts all other background checks except for NICS check No
Firearms Dealer conducts NICS for instant check prior to the delivery No Yes Yes
Delivery 5-days, or upon approval of the law enforcement agency Upon notification of approval from NICS center Upon notification of approval from NICS center


CPL – Concealed Pistol License
LEA – Law Enforcement Agency
NICS – National Instant Criminal Background Check System