Washington state is a weird dichotomy when it comes to guns. On one hand, they’re a shall-issue state, which is usually the mark of a pro-gun state. On the other hand, they have a ridiculous amount of anti-gun laws on the books already. That was true even before the controversial I-1639 ballot initiative.
These days, though, the state is mostly focused on gun control rather than preserving gun rights. It’s probably only a matter of time before they shift to may-issue laws.
Right now, though, a couple of problematic new laws just kicked in within the state.
H.R. 1225 affects law enforcement entering domestic violence scenes. Police will have to take guns they see or are believed to have been used and also question victims for the whereabouts of other guns the suspect has access to.
H.R. 1786 impacts the timeline of gun surrenders in domestic violence cases. Guns will have to be given up immediately upon officers notifying offenders of orders. Courts will have to check in and hold review hearings to make sure orders are followed and if suspects refuse, prosecutors have more power to charge them with a felony.
Gun rights can be restored but that will be up to a judge.
They’ve been in effect since July 1, 2019, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t huge problems with these.
For one, H.R. 1225 basically gives the police the right to seize property on the mere suspicion of a crime. While domestic violence suffers are often hesitant to call the police, some people who aren’t victims may well call and claim otherwise. Taking someone’s guns like this is a violation of the Constitution as no one is supposed to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
H.R. 1786 is almost as bad. By confiscating guns over a protective order, you’re punishing for something they haven’t been convicted of. I haven’t been able to find the text of this bill to make sure, but it certainly sounds like guns are taken prior to any conviction. After a conviction, that’s one thing. Federal law says people convicted of domestic violence can’t have guns and that is what it is.
But protective orders are often issued on shaky evidence. Taking someone’s firearms over little more than he said/she said is once again a violation of someone’s constitutional rights. The very fact that they say gun rights can be restored by a judge suggests that this is about protective orders and not convictions, which is important.
There are mechanisms for depriving people of their rights. There are times you want to do this for whatever reason. Yet it should never be an easy thing to happen. These are people’s rights, for crying out loud. They should be damn hard to take away, and for good reason.
However, in Washington state, they’re not. It just goes to show you that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was right when he referred to the Second Amendment as a second-class right.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. I just don’t think anyone in power in Washington actually cares if it is.