As the Associated Press reported, gun lobby opponents argued to the legislature that to extreme risk protection orders – a tool empowering families and law enforcement to prevent gun violence tragedies – would serve only to allow ‘vindictive petitioners’ to take away firearms from gun owners.
“Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, was the lead sponsor of the extreme-risk protection-order bill and said it would provide a tool for families when they see a loved one descend into extreme violence. Cheryl Berenson, a nurse practitioner, said House Bill 2461 would act as a preventive measure to stop a person before tragedy hits. ‘Let’s empower our families and friends to keep our communities safe,’ she said.”
But Phil Shave, [executive director of Washington Arms Collectors] said the bill would allow law enforcement to take property from someone who has not committed a crime. ‘This is a startling, un-American idea,’ he said. ‘It’s designed to be abused by vindictive petitioners.’
Extreme Risk Protection Orders legislation, which was supported in the Legislature by police, domestic violence prevention advocates, doctors, and survivors of gun violence, require petitioners seeking protection to provide evidence under oath of demonstrated mental illness or violent behavior.”
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“But it’s worth asking a very simple question: Has [Initiative 594] prevented the sale of guns to people who should not have them?
It has. National Instant Criminal Background Check System statistics for 2015 show that 5,466 background checks were conducted for private sales in Washington from March to December. Of those, 102 sales were not approved and returned to the seller.A hundred people who weren’t supposed to own guns were not allowed to buy guns, at least at one point of sale. It’s not many, but it’s not nothing. Snider, who says he was wrong about the law, was actually right. It worked.”
On January 21, we traveled to Olympia to remind legislators that gun responsibility matters to Washingtonians. Law enforcement, Moms, Grandmothers, gun violence survivors, public health officials and others joined us for a series of events around the Capitol, a press conference, and a hearing on important firearm-related bills, including Extreme Risk Protection Orders and Child Access Prevention bills. Please find four great stories on the day below.
Among the bills being considered by the House Judiciary Committee was a measure requiring the safe storage of firearms to avoid tragedies like school shootings, teen suicides and gun accidents, according to the dozens of people who testified. Another key measure would allow family members, law enforcement and others to secure a protection order to prevent a high-risk individual from possessing a firearm while that person poses a danger to himself or others.
“When kids have access to guns, no place is safe and everybody loses,” said Everett pediatrician Dr. Jane Lester, who treats some of the students who continue to be traumatized by the 2014 Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting, carried out by a 15-year-old freshman using his father’s handgun
The bill that is getting most attention is the one that would require that firearms be stored safely. It’s a response to the tragedy at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in which a student took a gun from his father and shot and killed four of his classmates in 2014.
A cousin of Gia Soriano, one of the students killed that day, was on hand Thursday to support the measure. “Adults have an obligation to keep kids safe, to keep guns safely stored,” said Cindy Gazecki. “I hope that I can count on our lawmakers today to take action and to help protect kids like our Gia.”
Hundreds of people turned out Thursday to testify at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on a series of gun-related bills, including one that would allow local jurisdictions to restrict guns in public places.
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Seattle attorney Jamie Clausen organizes events and rallies, and says thereare few events where she does not see an armed person. “There may be communities where that’s welcomed, but it’s not welcomed in my community,” she said.
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility issued the following statement from Executive Director Renée Hopkins following the release of President Obama’s executive order intended to address gun violence:
“It is long past time that our federal government join the states and the people in responding to our crisis of gun violence, and we wholeheartedly applaud President Barack Obama for today’s much-needed Executive Order. It is a clear message that the American people’s demand for action on gun violence is being heard in Washington, D.C., as well as at the state and local levels.
The President’s Executive Order will make a vital contribution to strengthening the enforcement of our laws to keep firearms out of dangerous hands. It ensures that more firearms sales will be subject to background checks, while also making needed investments in the technology and people that make our background check system effective. It provides new tools for law enforcement to pursue individuals who illegally attempt to acquire firearms, and will help prevent the trafficking of firearms between states. And it breaks down barriers to access to mental health care for those in crisis.
This Executive Order is a thoughtful, comprehensive, and judicious use of the President’s authority in support of the national consensus that we must address the appalling toll of gun violence.
States like Washington State helped make today possible by showing over the last two years that the people will support action to strengthen our gun laws. The American people deserve a Congress, and state legislatures, that will honor their call for action. We look forward to building on today’s important announcement with elected officials who respect the will of the people.”
The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility issued the following statement from Executive Director Renée Hopkins regarding today’s Court ruling in favor of Seattle’s tax on firearm and ammunition sales:
“We are enormously gratified that Seattle’s action to address the costs of gun violence has been upheld Judge Robinson. City Attorney Pete Holmes and his team deserve thanks for their strong defense of this critical priority.
It has always been clear that Seattle’s tax on gun sales and ammunition was a proper and lawful exercise of the City’s power to invest in public programs. The costs of gun violence are far too high – for the taxpayers that paid $12 million in direct medical costs last year, and certainly for the victims and survivors of gun violence. The funds now available to the City will support first-in-the-nation research that is providing invaluable tools to our medical and law enforcement professionals for understanding this challenge, educating the public, and protecting public safety.
This is the second time this year that the gun lobby has tried – and failed – to use the courts to block the express will of the people for action on gun violence. Today’s ruling is a clear message that their campaign to eliminate any factual information about gun violence is not welcome in Washington State. The gun lobby should stand aside and allow Seattle’s law to take effect as scheduled. We will continue to stand with the City of Seattle in vigorously defending the law from further attack.”