Bill proposes guns to be taken from ‘extreme risk’ people

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OLYMPIA — Judges in Washington state would be able to temporarily take away the guns of people considered at extreme risk of violence by family members or police under a bill to be filed Wednesday.

The bill, to be introduced in both the state House and Senate, would enable judges to prevent a person from having any firearms or a concealed-pistol license for a year after a hearing for an “extreme risk protective order” based on recent behavior.

According to a draft of the bill, a person with a pattern of violent acts or threats, drug abuse, brandishing weapons recklessly or domestic violence, among other acts, could have firearms taken away by authorities. Judges would also be allowed to consider whether a person has violated a harassment restraining order and whether the person has bought guns within the last six months.

The protective order could be renewed for a second year if a judge finds that the person still poses a danger.

The bill is similar to a California law enacted after a gunman killed six people at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in May, after family members noticed disturbing behavior by the gunman but lacked a legal mechanism to have his firearms taken away. Connecticut and Indiana have similar laws in place.

Under current Washington law, family members or police who notice a person is becoming a danger to him or herself or others don’t have a legal-system means of protection short of a 14-day involuntary commitment, said Geoff Potter, communications director for Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

“People will be able to take action before a situation becomes critical and gets out of hand,” Potter said.