Washington OKs judge-approved gun takeaway

Initiative 1491 lets families of people in crisis to ask a judge to issue an extreme-risk protection orders

A handgun (Public Domain Photos, Kai Stachowiak)
A handgun (Public Domain Photos, Kai Stachowiak)

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington voters approved a measure to reduce gun violence by taking firearms away from people who are found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others.

Initiative 1491 will allow families of people in crisis to ask a judge to issue an extreme-risk protection orders that would temporarily prevent their loved ones from having access to firearms.

Initiative 1491 website

“This is really a victory for Washington families,” initiative campaign manager Stephanie Ervin said. “We’re celebrating for the lives this measure will save.”

Gun control was on the ballot in four states, including California, which already has some of the nation’s toughest gun-related laws. Voters there approved a measure that will outlaw possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, require permits to buy ammunition and extend California’s unique program that allows authorities to seize firearms from owners who bought guns legally but are no longer allowed to own them.

Washington voters approved this intiative with more than 70% of the vote.

Marilyn Balcerak with the Alliance for Gun Responsibility believes this law could have saved her children’s lives if it had been in place 2 years ago.

Her mentally ill son bought a gun, then killed her stepdaughter and himself.

But before any judge can authorize that extreme protection order, there is a required court hearing and due process.

Jon Bush, who has been a gunsmith and gun owner for decades, sees this as an unnecessary law. He fears people will abuse it.

“Somebody doesn’t like somebody and somebody takes advantage of the fact they own firearms, so they take advantage of the bill, claim they are afraid for them and that would be it,” Bush said.

A similar law was passed in Connecticut in 1999. Since then, more than 700 risk warrants have been issued.

KOIN 6 News reporter Emily Sinovic contributed to this report.