Priorities misplaced in background checks by state | Guest Column

Nick Power - Contributed photo
Nick Power
— image credit: Contributed photo

By Nick Power

I guess I should be flattered in the way that Bruce Lee might have been if the urban legend were true that he had to register his hands as “lethal weapons”.

But this is not urban legend, the state of Washington evidently sees my practice of law as much more potentially dangerous than my ownership of a semi-automatic carbine.

I just applied a few weeks ago for admission to the Washington Bar Association. I had to supply three character references, two of whom had to have been already licensed to practice law. I had to provide any and all details of any mental illness which might impair my ability to practice.

I had to supply the bar association with my residency location for the past five years, and supply witnesses who could support this. In addition, I was required to pay a $300 dollar fee for a third party to perform a background check and sign a notarized form indemnifying all parties from liability for damages that might have occurred from their investigation.

Furthermore, I had to have the Supreme Court of the state of Illinois furnish a letter stating that I had been a member of the Illinois bar since 1997, and that I had no disciplinary actions against me subsequently.

I did not really think much of this at the time. I grumbled my grumble of resignation the same way I grumble when its time to fill out tax returns in April.

I am not an anti-gun zealot. I shot competitively at my Missouri public junior high school (can you imagine) using Olympic-style single-shot bolt action .22s. In fact, I recently bought a semi-automatic carbine brand new, across the counter of a sporting goods store.

In sharp contrast to my application to practice law, I gave the gun salesman a credit card, my driver’s license and filled out a one-page form where I attested to my self-diagnosis that I wasn't nuts.

The salesman then disappeared to the back, made a two -minute long phone call to some government office somewhere, which I suppose then “ran” my name and social security number and did not turn up anything glaring. Five minutes later I was in the parking lot with a semi-automatic, and with 500 rounds of ammunition.

I am all for responsible gun ownership — but I am also for responsible gun procurement laws. It is time to accept the fact that the gun lobby has made the government complicit in frustrating the latter.

— Editor’s note: A San Juan Island resident since 2008, Nick Power has been an attorney, economic researcher, consultant and developer.


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