In the debate on firearms and gun control, everyone agrees that those tried and convicted of felonies should not possess a weapon. Furthermore, most agree that if a person poses a threat to themselves or others, a court has the legal authority to order the temporary confiscation of that individual’s firearms, as long as that person is given proper due process. Count The Seattle Times editorial board among those who agree. The paper’s editorial board is praising Seattle-King County law enforcement for its new gun confiscating task force.
Before anyone freaks out about law enforcement officers coming for the guns of Washingtonians, it is legitimate and, most importantly, legal. From the editorial board:
A Seattle-King County law enforcement task force has an effective new approach to enforcing protection orders that call for taking guns away from domestic abusers and others.
The team is covering entirely new ground, helping people feel comfortable temporarily surrendering their weapons. These highly skilled police officers and sheriff’s deputies have managed to keep their interactions with these gun owners calm and professional. In addition, the team also can obtain search warrants or take legal action when someone claims they do not have a gun in contrast with information the victim has presented to the court or the team has discovered. The task force also has opened up a new online resource page to help Washingtonians learn about protection orders and more easily obtain one: http://protectionorder.org
Most people don’t know that they can work through the courts to get weapons out of the hands of family members who have threatened them or from friends who have expressed thoughts of suicide. Nor are they aware that state law requires people served with domestic violence protection orders to surrender their firearms.
David French, a conservative writer at National Review, has addressed the concept of Gun Violence Restraining Orders (GVROs). Like Washington’s protection order, a GVRO “empowers a person in a close relationship with a gun-owner to seek a court order that allows police to temporarily seize guns when there is evidence that the gun-owner is a danger to himself or others.”
A good GVRO still protects a person’s right to bear arms, as well as their right to due process. For these restraining orders, the burden of proof required to confiscate the individual’s weapon(s) is high, as it should be. While this sounds like a promising method to prevent potential acts of gun violence, there are issues. The Seattle Times points out that in cases of domestic violence, a GVRO may not do its intended job as the order’s enforcement is, at times, inconsistent.
This is where the task force comes in.
Enforcing current laws on the books, and executing them efficiently, is where everyone needs to start in this national conversation. Just by applying the requirements of the protection order, The Seattle Times explains that the police department in Seattle-King County has confiscated more guns in only a few weeks than they did in all of last year. But of course, rather than focusing on that positive and thinking of ways our current system can improve upon without new gun control legislation, The Seattle Times editorial board ends its commentary by saying:
This nation still needs more and better gun regulations — most urgent is a ban on millitary-style (sic) assault weapons like the weapons commonly used in mass shootings. But this task force is a welcome move in the right direction.
After showing how enforcing current laws is getting firearms out of the hands of dangerous, or potentially dangerous, people, the editorial board, while praising the task force for moving in the right direction, suggests a policy that would move the country in the wrong direction. Even after seeing and acknowledging what is working, enforcing our existing law, gun control supporters continue to push for banning weapons and creating harsher restrictions that have not, and will not, reduce gun violence.