A museum in Lynden, Wash. has decided to return 11 World World II-era rifles to their owners because of a state law passed earlier this month that requires background checks on gun transfers.
The Lynden Pioneer Museum will comply with the law, Initiative 594, rather than fight it, The Bellingham Herald reports.
The museum’s exhibit, “Over the Beach: The WWII Pacific Theater,” had the 11 rifles on display along with photographs and journals from the era as well as military vehicles and radios.
It will continue until May 1, but without the guns.
“The museum will be returning these guns to their owners because as of Dec 4th, we would be in violation of the law if we had loaned firearms that had not undergone the background check procedure,” reads the museum’s website. “Nor would we be able to return those firearms unless the owners completed the back ground check procedure.”
Included in the arsenal is an anti-tank rifle, a Johnson M1941 and a Japanese infantry rifle, museum director Troy Luginbill told the Herald.
Luginbill said he was unable to find a work-around to the law, which requires background checks for any sales or transfers of guns.
The law makes exceptions for transfers to family members and for antiques. But according to the law, a gun qualifies as an antique only if it was produced before 1898.
“I read through the law about 10 different times looking for a loophole,” Luginbill told the paper.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told the Herald he was unable to form an opinion on the law for this specific case, saying “to date, there have not been any lawsuits filed against I-594, nor has our office received any opinion requests.”
“At this point we have no interpretations of the initiative to offer to the public beyond the text of the measure itself.”