Vote Yes on I-1491 to Help Take Guns From People At Risk of Hurting Themselves or Others

This is common sense gun legislation that constitutional scholars say stands up to scrutiny.

This is common-sense gun legislation. I-1491 would create a civil process so that people who’ve demonstrated a clear risk of hurting themselves or others can’t buy or own guns for up to a year. It’s a simple, and crucial, method for preventing some of the most preventable forms of gun violence—those caused by people who’ve already demonstrated clear signs of distress. Hindsight is 20/20. But many mass shooters have indeed shown signs of violence before they’ve committed mass violence—Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, for instance, beat and abused his ex-wife. Also, far more people shoot themselves than they do others; nearly 80 percent of all gun deaths in Washington state are suicides, and, research shows, some 80 percent of people who attempt suicide exhibited warning signs beforehand. I-1491 would allow family members and police to act on that distress, and gather evidence to petition a judge for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” hearing. Only after receiving a preponderance of evidence would a judge temporarily remove someone’s right to bear arms. Opponents of the measure argue that taking away a person’s rights before they officially commit a crime is an unsettling precedent. But the measure builds on a civil hearing process that already exists in Washington for victims of sexual assault whose assailants were not prosecuted (Sexual Assault Protection Orders function like restraining orders by requiring the offender to stay away from the victim). Plus, I-1491 does not, according to constitutional law experts, violate due process, because the maximum amount of time allowed between the seizure of someone’s guns and the civil hearing is two weeks. “So your guns are taken away for 14 days,” says Marilyn Balcerak, citizen sponsor of I-1491 after her son shot and killed his stepsister and then himself last summer. She believes she could sense the danger long before that. “Isn’t that worth somebody’s life?”

Read the rest of Seattle Weekly’s endorsements for the 2016 general election here.

More in News & Comment

Photo by Taylor McAvoy
State Legislators Want to Restrict Public Access to Their Records

Lawmakers are attempting to ram through Senate Bill 6617 to shield themselves from public scrutiny.

Lokesh Marenayakanapalya, a software engineer at F5 Networks, is one of the roughly 30,000 high-skilled Indian green-card applicants throughout Washington. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Birds in a Cage: The Indian Green Card Backlog

Over 300,000 high-skilled workers are stuck in immigration limbo across the country.

The Fair Chance Housing Law bars landlords from using criminal records to deny an applicant. Photo by Ken Ratcliff/Flickr
Fair Chance Housing Law Offers Renewed Hope to the Formerly Incarcerated

The new ordinance bars landlords from denying applicants with criminal records.

Photo by Taylor McAvoy
Legislature Considers Domestic Violence Survivor Workplace Protections

A new bill could safeguard victims against on-the-job discrimination.

Charlie Shih’s interactive art installation ‘<em>They Did’</em> captured the spirit of #MeToo on UW’s campus. Photo by Lucas Boland
#MeToo U

The increased focus on sexual assault has local students and universities examining campus policies.

Hash Gets Hacked

A change in tracking companies has left Washington’s cannabis industry exposed.

Photo by Jessica Spengler/Flickr
Budget Proposal Would Jeopardize Washington’s Food Assistance Program

Policy analysts say Trump’s plan to slash SNAP’s funding would push people further into poverty.

2017 People’s Tribunal, organized by Northwest Detention Center Resistance. Photo by Sara Bernard.
Immigrant Rights Community Responds to Allegations Against Seattle ICE Attorney

Activists say that Monday’s charges further vindicate their fight against the organization’s tactics.

Washington State Capitol. Photo by Nicole Jennings
Washington May Soon Teach Sexual Abuse Prevention in Schools

The State Legislature is considering training aimed at improving child safety.

Most Read