Government Agency Feels Brunt Of Increased Gun Permit Applications

By Alexandra Kocik

LACEY, Wash. – Thousands of gun owners plan to rally in Olympia and Salem Friday. They’re showing their support for the second amendment and opposition to gun control proposals. The rallies come as gun sales in the Northwest are brisk… and so are the required background checks.

Each piece of paper can contain between one and 50 names sent by a police agency.]At the Aging and Disability Services office in Lacey, the fax machine drones on and on.

This is where police agencies from around Washington send requests for mental health background checks for people looking to buy a gun. There was a big spike in these requests, after President Obama won reelection. And then, the number of incoming faxes nearly doubled after the massacre in Newtown, Conn.

It used to be that two people could do this job. Now seven more employees do it in addition to their other tasks. Kathy Howard is the receptionist here. She now spends up to 6 hours a day working through the growing stacks of papers.

Kathy Howard: “Spokane will send us 30 pages of 30 to 40 names per page. And that’s every day. So, it’s a never ending, labor intensive job.”

Under Washington law, these mental health background checks have to be done within 5 days. If not, the gun buyer receives a weapon regardless of their record.

Photo: Employees organize stacks of faxes by day and month. Each piece of paper can contain between one and 50 names sent by a police agency. Photo by Alexandra Kocik.

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