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Politics

Wash. State Officials Ask Taxpayers For $400K To Track Soaring Handgun Sales

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File photo of a gun. (Photo credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a gun. (Photo credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

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Olympia, Wash. (CBS SEATTLE) – A surge in weapons purchases is creating too much work for Washington state regulators, and now government officials are looking to tap taxpayer money to help update their weapon database.

The ACCESS gun registry – a database that traces Washington weapons owners — has fallen far behind gun sales, as handguns and other firearms are being purchased at a much faster rate, leaving state officials unable to keep up with the paperwork, KOMO-TV reports.

And now government officials say the public safety concern is too great not to increase the amount of public money being pumped into the program.

“Over the last seven years, firearms sales in our state have nearly tripled while the number of our staff has remained the same,” Christine Anthony, a Department of Licensing spokesperson, told KOMO.

The Department of Licensing is asking for $409,000 in taxpayer funds to employ temporary workers to assist in processing the backed up paperwork. State officials say that the backlog is hurting police investigations because state agencies check the registry thousands of times each day.

KOMO reports that there have been 106,000 handguns sold since March that have not been entered into the database.

“Public safety is actually being compromised,” Anthony said. “The further the backlog is, the less current the information is for law enforcement.”

However, weapons dealers have taken aim at the database backlog, saying the entire process is very redundant.

“Being a taxpayer, I’m not fond of spending money on something that is already — the database — is already there,” said Brian Schuetz, who owns Olympic Arms, a firearms manufacturer in Olympia. Shuetz added that there is already a nearly identical federal database for handgun sales which could be used to track sales.

“I don’t know that there’s anything different except for one gets a phone number on it,” Shuetz told KOMO, pointing to side-by-side state and federal database forms.

“If that one’s already up to date, why do I want to spend money to bring the other one that does the same thing?”

Regardless, police officials have maintained that they need the flawed database updated in order to fight crime.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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