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Originally published February 12, 2013 at 8:54 PM | Page modified February 12, 2013 at 10:55 PM

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NRA flunks former ally in Olympia

Even a 100 percent NRA voting record didn’t protect Rep. Mike Hope from the wrath of gun-rights groups when he supported broader background checks.

Seattle Times staff columnist


I guess there’s no fury like the NRA scorned.

After Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, sponsored a gun background-check bill, he knew his lifetime “A” rating with the National Rifle Association would get a downgrade.

But he didn’t think the gun-rights group would blanket his district with anti-Mike Hope postcards. Nor stop speaking to him.

“It looks like I went straight from an A to an F,” Hope says.

The NRA mailed cards to Hope’s 44th District last week that read: “Urgent: Your State Rep. Mike Hope Co-sponsored Sweeping Gun Control Bill.”

The cards derided Hope’s proposal as both an attack on the Second Amendment and a sneaky step toward registering all firearms and their owners.

“It is critical that you contact him today,” the card urged, listing Hope’s phone number.

The part about contacting him is kind of ironic. Because Hope says he’s been trying to talk with the NRA for two months to give input on his bill.

“They do not appear to be interested in any sort of conversation,” Hope, who is also a Seattle police officer, said Tuesday. “Everything with the NRA is no, no, no. And trying to create fear.”

Remember, a few months ago this guy was endorsed by the NRA. He’s got a 100 percent lifetime NRA voting record. And now even he thinks the NRA is going off the rails.

Wednesday is gun day in Olympia, with hearings beginning at 8 a.m. on a slew of gun proposals. What prompted the NRA’s targeting of Hope is House Bill 1588, which would subject all gun sales to background checks. If passed, it means you could no longer buy guns anonymously from private sellers, as is widespread today.

It’s already the law that you have to get a background check to buy a gun from a licensed firearms dealer. But not from a private citizen.

“Passing a background check does not impact the right to bear arms whatsoever,” Hope said. “Unless you can’t pass the background check. Then you should be worried.”

There were 519,209 background checks conducted in Washington state last year — a whopping 55 percent increase over 2011. That’s a sign of the run on guns. But also of how the checks at gun shops have become an accepted part of the firearms trade, not tyrannical overreach as the NRA suggests.

Hope said the new checks would be just like the old. They wouldn’t be stored in a registry, so could not be used to compile lists of who owns what guns. He’s also amending the bill to exempt anyone with a concealed-pistol permit (because they’ve already had background checks).

Meanwhile, ads placed in the past week to sell guns on Armslist, an online gun version of Craigslist, demonstrate Hope’s entire point — how lax this private sales market is.

“We are fortunate to live in WA State which allows face to face private sales of firearms without ANY paperwork required!” trumpets an ad for a 16-gauge shotgun. “Take advantage of your freedom now before they take it away.”

Says an ad for an AK-74 military assault rifle being sold out of Spokane: “I would prefer to sell this to a person of good character ... if you look like a punk, thug, crackhead or any other kind of degenerate I will ask you to submit to a background check.”

Well, if it’s suitable for people who happen to look like thugs and degenerates, how about for the thugs and degenerates who don’t?

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or


About Danny Westneat

Danny Westneat takes an opinionated look at the Puget Sound region's news, people and politics. Send tips or comments to His column runs Wednesday and Sunday. | 206-464-2086