OLYMPIA – The House Judiciary Committee is holding public hearings on five gun-related bills this Thursday, Jan. 21.
Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D – Tacoma) chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is sponsoring the Extreme Risk Protection Orders bill, which would help family members intervene when they see a loved one going through a mental health crisis.
“I’m optimistic for progress on commonsense gun safety legislation this year that would help keeps guns out of the hands of people going through a crisis, young children and teens,” Jinkins said. “My Republican colleagues have always said they’d be willing to consider reasonable and fair approaches to preventing gun violence. On Thursday we’ll be hearing some reasonable solutions that balance rights and responsibilities, and we’ll need bipartisan support.
“Too many preventable tragedies occur when a young child or troubled teen has easy access to an unsecured gun,” said Rep. Ruth Kagi (D – Seattle), who is sponsoring the Child Access Prevention bill. “Responsible gun owners can prevent tragic accidental shootings by young children, and teen suicides, by simply securing their weapon. Kids are going to be kids. This bill will hold adults responsible for being adults.”
Extreme Risk Protection Orders – HB 2461
This bill would allow family members and law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily prevent an individual going through a mental health crisis from accessing a gun. The truth is, most people who commit an act of gun violence give some indication of their intentions prior to the act. Family members are the most likely to detect when a loved one is going through a crisis and may present a risk to themselves or others — Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) put tools in the hands of those best equipped to help prevent tragedies. These orders could have prevented the kind of mass shootings like the one that took the lives of six young people at U.C. Santa Barbara.
ERPOs are temporary and ensure due process, preserving 2nd Amendment rights with multiple checks and balances. In order to be granted an ERPO, the petitioner must prove the individual in question poses an immediate danger of injury to themselves or others and that other alternatives have been tried or found to be ineffective, so someone couldn’t simply pursue and order because they were mad at a family member. Additionally, it would be a crime to falsely petition a court for an ERPO.
Child Access Prevention – HB 1747
There are too many instances of young children finding an unsecured gun in their home, at a family member’s or neighbor’s house, and accidentally shooting themselves or others. Here in Washington, guns taken from the home have been at the heart of some of the most tragic gun violence incidents in our state, including the Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting. Over a 25-year period, more than 65 percent of school shooters obtained the firearm at their home or that of a relative.
Additionally, one study found that more than 75 percent of guns used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, relative or friend.
This law would create the crime of child endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm when a person stores or leaves the firearm in a place they know or should know is accessible to a child and the child does harm with the unsecured gun. This bill would not mandate how a firearm should be stored — just that adults take the responsibility for storing their guns so they can’t be easily accessed by young children or troubled teens.
The committee will also hear:
- HB 2460, which would give local municipalities the ability to choose what’s best for their community by restricting possession of firearms in local public places like parks, public transportation and libraries.
- HB 2481, which would clarify and expand the exemption for gun owners to own, repair, buy or sell short-barreled rifles.
- HB 2372, which would direct local law enforcement agencies to either keep or destroy guns acquired through criminal investigations. Currently, law enforcement agencies sell guns acquired through criminal investigations to licensed dealers.