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Jan. 28, 2023

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Gun-control backers push I-1491 at rally

They say measure would keep firearms out of wrong hands

By , Columbian Political Writer
Published:

Gun-control advocates gathered on Thursday near the home of a Clark County man who allegedly fatally shot his wife earlier this summer.

The backers of a ballot measure that would allow family members to petition a judge to prevent someone from possessing a firearm urged support for Initiative 1491 and implied that the shooting of Amanda Marjama in her Five Corners home could have been prevented.

Family members told police officers that Todd Marjama, who is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree assault, had made previous threats to kill his wife and young children.

On Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt said Initiative 1491 would “empower families and save lives.”

Several victims of gun violence spoke, including Marilyn Balcerak, who said if she had been able to file a court order to prohibit her son from buying a firearm, both her son and stepdaughter would still be alive.

Balcerak’s son bought his gun legally at a Fred Meyer, she said. She knew he was suicidal and had violent tendencies and had called the police on him, but her efforts were fruitless. Her 23-year-old son killed his 21-year-old stepsister and himself.

“I was afraid of my son, I was afraid for my son. … And I was powerless to stop it,” Balcerak said.

Proponents of the measure believe “family members and law enforcement are often in the best position to see the warning signs of violence, by creating extreme risk protection orders,” according to a statement from the campaign.

If a judge believes the person is a danger to themselves or others, they could lose the right to buy or have a firearm for up to one year.

State Rep. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, a vocal advocate for gun rights, said she is worried about the repercussions of the measure.

“I support greater protections for victims from violent abusers,” Wilson wrote recently in an email to The Columbian. “However, this is a poorly written initiative that I can see will lead to abuse due to the lack of due process and broad definitions. Another case where the issue should be fully vetted and scrutinized by the Legislature to make sure it gets done, and done right.”

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility also backed a measure in 2014, which was approved by voters, expanding background checks to the sale and transfer of guns.

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Columbian Political Writer