February 2015 – The Lynden Pioneer Museum, in Lynden, Washington, has decided to remove all its World War II era weapons to avoid having to comply with a new law requiring background checks on gun transfers.
The new law, Initiative 594, requires background checks on all sales and transfers, including private transactions, loans, and gifts. The law includes an exception for antiques and transfers between family members.
Troy Luginbill, museum director, said the small museum would not be able to afford the background checks required by law. He said, “I read through the law about 10 different times looking for a loophole.” Unfortunately, he didn’t find one.
Geoff Potter, spokesman for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, said the measure was designed to prevent criminals from buying weapons without background checks at gun shows.
He said, “This is clearly not what was concerned when I-594 was designed. You can’t craft every possibility into every law. We think they can go forward with the exhibit, and we hope they will.”
But Lynden Pioneer Museum is not alone in its concern. James Payne, executive director of the Fort Walla Walla Museum, said his museum has a collection of WWII weapons in its permanent collection. But he wonders what would happen if he wanted to loan the weapons to another museum. He asked, “How do you do a background check on an institution?”