Diary

Washington State Trying To Add Yet Another Way To Take People's Guns

These people never go away they can’t be reasoned with and they will keep on coming until they manage to deprive citizens of the right to protect themselves.

A new ballot measure in Washington would allow the police to seize guns, in response to a court petition from either police or family members

A ballot measure that would allow authorities to temporarily seize guns from those considered a danger to themselves or others in Washington state is getting strong support from Democrats and Republicans, according to an independent poll.

If the measure passes, Washington would become the second state after California to allow family members and police to petition a judge to take guns from a person considered a danger. Connecticut, Indiana and Texas have similar laws, but only police can ask a judge to do so.

—-Wall Street Journal (note behind a paywall)

The full text of the bill can be found here WA State Ballot Initiative 1491.

First question to ask, just why is the state trying to add yet another means to seize firearms when they already have a method in place ? The state already has the ability to seize the firearms of anyone under a civil protection order (restraining order etc), and already can deprive a citizen their without benefit of a hearing under the appropriate circumstances. Under current law the courts can order the surrender, for anyone who displayed firearms, threatened their use, committed 4th degree assault (a misdemeanor), trespass against a family member or household member, coercion, reckless endangerment or was involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

Nice, if I read their current law right a family member who is ticked at you, could Baker Act you, and then make you fight in the courts to get your rights back. This by any reasonable reckoning has to be considered a rather comprehensive and possibly excessive set of conditions under which the state can deprive a citizen of their liberty.

What does the new measure add  ?

Under the proposed law, two new types of order would be in place. The first looks much like the prior protection order except it is broadened to dating, and the standard would be “Reasonable Fear”.  It would also allow law enforcement agencies to get the order without actually notifying the target there was to be a hearing, they just have to make an effort. It isn’t hard to see how either of these could go wrong. Have a bad break up and a gun collection ? Next thing you know your former dearest is telling a judge about all the scary guns you have and the crazy crazy things you did with them. The police situation is even worse, cross someone with a little clout and the next thing you know SWAT is coming in your windows in the middle of the night and you haven’t got a clue why.

The second new type of order, would be an Ex. Parte order, in other words one where the target is not informed of the hearing and may not have the right to participate in the hearing.

From a purely personal viewpoint, I look at this and think Kafka was not meant to be a guide on how to build modern societies, No one should be placed in the situation of trying to find out why they have been deprived of their rights after having been deprived of them.  There may be exceptions but they should be rare.

From a practical viewpoint, I have to ask just what crimes would this law have prevented if it had of been in place earlier, that the existing laws couldn’t have been used equally well to stop ? If you are going to add new laws, you should at least be able to show how inadequate the existing ones are.