Washingtons handgun database lags behind sales

first_imgEVERETT — The Washington firearms database is missing information from thousands of handgun sales as the state struggles to keep up with the speed of purchases.The Department of Licensing began November with a backlog of 106,000 pistol transfers to enter into the database, which is used by city, county and state authorities to find owners of handguns that turn up during investigations, the Daily Herald reported Sunday (http://is.gd/e1XUvm).Last week, employees in the state agency were handling purchases made in March.The department is asking the governor and lawmakers for $409,000 in next year’s supplemental budget to hire several part-timers to clear the paperwork.Spokeswoman Christine Anthony said the licensing department is required by law to keep the database up to date.“We see this as a public safety issue that law enforcement should be able to access this information from their vehicle,” she said.While it doesn’t appear the backlog has become problematic, law enforcement leaders want it rectified because the database is heavily used.Officers from city, county and state law enforcement agencies tapped into it 1.7 million times in 2012. And most were unaware it lacked information on thousands of gun sales.“It is very important to us. We certainly want it updated as much as possible,” said Mitch Barker, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.There are five full-time employees in the department’s Firearms Program who enter data, deal with applicants for handgun licenses and answer questions from firearm dealers.last_img

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