January 28, 2015 Blog

Extreme Risk Protection Orders Introduced in the Legislature

Today, legislation was introduced that will create Extreme Risk Protection Orders in Washington State. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily suspend someone’s access to firearms based on documented, sworn evidence that they pose a threat to themselves or others. Petitions would be reviewed by a judge, and individuals who knowingly file false petitions can be charged with a crime.

In May 2014, Elliot Rodger used firearms as part of a mass killing near the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus. Family members were well aware that Rodger possessed firearms, displayed signs of extreme distress, and presented a danger of acting on his threats against others. But California law did not allow for his access to firearms to be suspended. In response, California passed its version of these orders into law in October 2014. The legislation, along with a pending House companion bill, represents a key component of the gun responsibility agenda for 2015.

The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility released the following statement from Jane Weiss, whose niece Veronika was killed in the UC Santa Barbara shooting:

“My niece Veronika Weiss was murdered last May by an extremely disturbed individual with access to firearms who committed a senseless act of violence near the UC Santa Barbara campus. This devastating tragedy occurred, in part, because neither the family of the perpetrator nor law enforcement had the tools to temporarily remove his access to firearms.

Washington State has taken an important step today in preventing tragedies like the one that claimed Veronika and so many others with the introduction of Extreme Risk Protection Orders. This legislation will give our families and law enforcement the opportunity to present documented evidence to a court so that firearms can be temporarily removed from a volatile situation and ensure that people in distress get the help that they need. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will help families respond to signs that a family member is in distress, rather than leaving them powerless.

These measures will save lives while protecting Second Amendment rights, and I urge the Legislature to swiftly take action to pass it into law.”