I think the writers of I-594 put some fatal flaws in their initiative by trying to cover “transfers” rather than just sales and in their definitions. Their definition of transfer:
“Transfer” means the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.
I cannot find any exemption for manufacturers, shippers, wholesalers, and perhaps (it’s not clear to me on “dealers”) even retail personal. They do offer this (emphasis added):
All firearm sales or transfers, in whole or part in this state including without limitation a sale or transfer where either the purchaser or seller or transferee or transferor is in Washington, shall be subject to background checks unless specifically exempted by state or federal law.
The way I read the Federal law, and I don’t think there is state law or else they wouldn’t have needed I-594, is that they don’t have specific exemptions for manufacturers or shippers. In fact “prohibited persons” in those occupations are specifically disallowed so why would they be necessary?
A strict reading of the new law would seem to conclude that a background check and paperwork is required for each firearm transferred between these people. The Federal law on background checks avoided this problem by only requiring background checks on sales. The Feds do require Federal Firearm licenses for manufactures and dealers. The Feds do require background checks on employees who have constructive possession of firearms. But there is no specific exemption for background checks on each transfer between employees or employees of common carriers (shippers).
Compounding things further they even use an interesting definition of “person”:
“Person” means any individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, club, organization, society, joint stock company, or other legal entity.
So how do you do a background check on all these legal entities? There is no specific exemption for any of them in Federal law and I-594 doesn’t mention one in state law.
Hence, the law has a difficult problem. If they were to enforce the background check and paperwork requirement on each transfer then commerce in guns would grind to a halt, placing such a burden on the specific right to keep and bear arms that it fails any level of scrutiny. If they don’t enforce the law against “legal entities” and their employees then I-594 has serious issues with selective enforcement.
The Feds avoid this bag of worms by only requiring background checks on FFL sales and making it illegal to transfer guns to prohibited persons. By expanding background checks and associated paperwork to all transfers the authors of I-594 created a law that clearly infringes upon our specific enumerated rights at any level of scrutiny.
Update: As Lyle points out, Federal law specifically exempts private sales from requiring a background check. By I-594 own words private sales are not covered. The sales aspect of the law is, at best, ambiguous.
Update 2: I was unable to find a specific law or regulation that confirms the point Lyle made in my previous update. It appears that the ATF FAQ I linked to is derived from the things that are not prohibited rather than those things which are specifically exempted.
However, if the person you are transferring to/from is from out of state there is a specific Federal exemption:
§478.30 Out-of-State disposition of firearms by nonlicensees.
No nonlicensee shall transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver any firearm to any other nonlicensee, who the transferor knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, does not maintain a place of business in) the State in which the transferor resides: Provided, That the provisions of this section:
(a) shall not apply to the transfer, transportation, or delivery of a firearm made to carry out a bequest of a firearm to, or any acquisition by intestate succession of a firearm by, a person who is permitted to acquire or possess a firearm under the laws of the State of his residence; and
(b) shall not apply to the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes.
This may be result in another unconstitutional point of contention. I believe it is unconstitutional for a state to give non-residents rights it denies it’s own residents. However this doesn’t say the nonlicensee is exempt from background checks. It just says they may transfer it. But since there is no provision for a nonlicensee to do background checks they are exempt by default.
However there are exemptions for loan or rental of firearms:
§478.97 Loan or rental of firearms.
(a) A licensee may lend or rent a firearm to any person for temporary use off the premises of the licensee for lawful sporting purposes: Provided, That the delivery of the firearm to such person is not prohibited by §478.99(b) or §478.99(c), the licensee complies with the requirements of §478.102, and the licensee records such loan or rental in the records required to be kept by him under Subpart H of this part.
(b) A club, association, or similar organization temporarily furnishing firearms (whether by loan, rental, or otherwise) to participants in a skeet, trap, target, or similar shooting activity for use at the time and place such activity is held does not, unattended by other circumstances, cause such club, association, or similar organization to be engaged in the business of a dealer in firearms or as engaging in firearms transactions. Therefore, licensing and recordkeeping requirements contained in this part pertaining to firearms transactions would not apply to this temporary furnishing of firearms for use on premises on which such an activity is conducted.
This would appear to give the specific exemption from background checks and paperwork to many, if not all, legal entities engaged in loans and/or rentals.