OLYMPIA – Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D – Tacoma) has introduced responsible gun legislation to help Washington families and law enforcement officers intervene to potentially prevent acts of gun violence.
With Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), family members or law enforcement could petition a court to temporarily limit access to firearms when there is documented evidence that a person is at an extreme risk to harm themselves or others.
While there is no single solution to prevent all gun violence, Jinkins and advocates know that limiting access to firearms when someone is undergoing a mental health crisis is an effective and meaningful way to keep guns out of dangerous hands.
“The truth is, most people who harm themselves or others give some indication of their intentions prior to the act,” said Rep. Laurie Jinkins. “But current law gives families little recourse to help loved ones who are in crisis — it is extremely hard to intervene. Extreme Risk Protection Orders will empower those best equipped to detect when someone is in dangerous crisis to prevent a tragedy.”
ERPOs have already been enacted in California, and Jinkins’ bill is modeled on Washington state’s successful Domestic Violence Protection Orders. This is the second year Jinkins has introduced this legislation.
“My Republican colleagues have always expressed a willingness to consider reasonable approaches to preventing gun violence,” Jinkins said. “This is a smart and responsible approach that will need bipartisan support.”
“Extreme Risk Protection Orders will empower families and law enforcement to help prevent tragedies that they very often can see coming,” said Renee Hopkins, Executive Director of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility. “It is just common sense that when families see the warning signs that a person is in crisis, they should have the ability petition a court of law to temporarily remove that person’s access to firearms. This is a measure that protects both due process and public safety, requires sworn evidence to be presented under oath, and has the support of those who deal with people in crisis every day. We thank Representative Jinkins and her colleagues for ensuring the Legislature once again has the opportunity to act on Extreme Risk Protection Orders, and we urge the Legislature to swiftly pass them into law.”
ERPOs are scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday.