The Evergreen State is staring down the barrels of Initiative 1491, which would give family members and authorities the ability to petition a judge to temporarily keep a person from purchasing a firearm.
Under the ballot initiative, any person deemed ‘a threat to him or herself and/or others’ could have their firearms seized and future purchases placed on hold for up to a year. This process would be known as the “Extreme Risk Protection Order.”
“Extreme Risk Protection Orders can be an important tool for police officers who see the impact of gun violence on a daily basis, and to family members who see early warning signs of violent behavior up close,” said Robert Merner, Assistant Police Chief, Seattle Police Department.
Proponents of the bill, sponsored in large part by Alliance for Gun Responsibility, say the initiative is necessary to ‘close loopholes in existing state laws’ that allow dangerous people to purchase guns.
“Washington Moms are thrilled to partner with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility to ensure that gun safety will once again be brought to a vote of the people here at home,” said Leanne Kennedy, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America’s Washington chapter. “Along with a coalition of gun safety advocates, we’re ready to work hard to get out the vote and continue to make Washington State a leader in gun safety.”
Over $3.2 million in funding has already been raised to help push the gun control initiative – $500,000 from our favorite New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg alone.
Even former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, co-founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, have thrown their support behind the initiative.
“It is a lot easier for the gun lobby to bully the members of Congress than the voters and citizens of Washington,” Kelly said. “Washington is a leading voice for gun responsibility in the United States.”
Currently, a number of pro-gun groups, including the Second Amendment Foundation, are working to fight the initiative.
“What we really need is a restraining-protection order law that stops Bloomberg and his cadre of anti-rights organizations from spending millions of dollars to violate our right of due process,” said Alan Gottlieb, Founder and Vice President of the Second Amendment Foundation. “This is not just about guns. It is about the rule of law in a free society.”
Why does all of this matter?
Because this initiative would do absolutely nothing to change what proponents say it would. It doesn’t provide any great protection. All this does is create a potential for abuse by those who disagree with the Second Amendment. Someone could argue that the mere fact that you own a gun makes you a threat to yourself and others.
This initiative would legalize an infringement on our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms and our right to due process. Everyone defines “a threat to others” differently, and leaving that open to individual interpretation is not only dangerous, it’s a slippery slope headed straight toward gun control.
Furthermore, does the state of Washington possess the recourses necessary to determine which claims are legitimate? What is the process for the determination – is there a process to be followed? Who’s to say that a colleague or an ex-girlfriend or husband won’t file a petition out of vengeance, leaving the gun owner defenseless and with little to no recourse in regaining their Second Amendment rights?
The lack of due process is one of the scariest aspects of this initiative. A petition and a judge are the only two things that stand between someone’s Second Amendment right. In a blink of an eye, that judge will have the authority to decide if someone is incapable of owning a firearm, with no way for that person to refute the claim or reverse the decision.
In every other aspect of the law a person is given the right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers.
Except in this case of this initiative.
The use of Extreme Risk Protection Orders doesn’t address the underlying causes of someone who is deemed a threat. It doesn’t lock them up or force them to be admitted for psychiatric evaluation. All it does is remove the firearms from his or her possession, assuming they own a gun(s). This initiative doesn’t keep someone from illegally stealing guns. After all, a person who wants to commit a crime will go to any extent possible, including stealing a firearm as their weapon of choice.
Anti-gun groups have partnered together to push this legislation through. Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America collected 10,000 signatures alone. A total of 340,000 signatures were collected to put the initiative on ballots in Washington this November, but that gives residents yet another opportunity to exercise their gun vote.
If you’re in Washington, be sure to vote NO on the initiative, urge their family, friends and colleagues to do the same.