By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Sponsors of a measure that would allow judges to take guns away from people deemed a risk to themselves or others have turned in more than 330,000 signatures one day before the deadline in Washington state.
Initiative 1491 would create “Extreme Risk Protection Orders,” allowing family members to petition a court and ask a judge to temporarily suspend a person’s access to firearms. Renee Hopkins, executive director of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which sponsored the initiative, said family members can play a crucial role in preventing gun violence.
“We know that there are family members that see signs of crisis or violent behavior in their loved ones,” she said, “And again, this would give those individuals the ability to petition a court and prevent a crisis from turning into a tragedy.”
Backers are waiting for signature validation from the Secretary of State and likely will find out in the next few weeks if the measure qualifies for the November ballot. Opponents have argued that the risk orders would not provide sufficient due process to gun owners, but Hopkins said the measure is based on other risk orders already in place.
In 2014, Washington state lawmakers passed a bill that allows judges to order domestic-violence offenders deemed a threat to others to surrender their guns.
“They’ve been upheld and utilized by the court system, so there really is an established approach to due process that is supported under Washington state law,” Hopkins said, “so, this is just expanding on that.”
Hopkins said the measure also might help prevent suicides, which account for nearly 80 percent of all firearms deaths in the state. She said two other states, California and Connecticut, recently have passed similar risk-order laws.
Featured Image: A Washington ballot initiative that would allow judges to temporarily suspend access to firearms to people deemed a threat to themselves or others gained 330,000 signatures, supporters say. (Alliance for Gun Responsibility)