The King County Council recently announced the creation of a task force to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.
The announcement follows up on the 2016 passage of Initiative 1491, also known as the "extreme risk protection order." Initiative 1491 sets up a process to allow law enforcement, family members or others to ask a judge to remove firearms from someone who is deemed a danger to themselves or others.
According to KOMO news, King County's new task force will focus exclusively on extreme protection order and domestic violence cases. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said the task force will "take those orders and actually go out and do the hard work of temporarily removing guns from homes where there's a danger.”
Satterberg also said that firearms could be returned to their owners after the domestic violence "crisis" ends or the gun owner has undergone counseling.
When Can Someone Request an "Extreme Risk Protection Order"?
An extreme risk protection order can potentially be requested against those who have been convicted of domestic violence or who have violated a no-contact order. However, an extreme risk protection order can potentially be issued without any prior domestic violence convictions or protection order violations.
An extreme risk protection order may also be issued if there has been:
- A recent threat of violence
- A pattern of threats of violence in the past 12 months
- Dangerous mental health issues
- Evidence of alcohol or controlled substance abuse
Washington Domestic Violence and Gun Laws
The Council's announcement comes in response to the recent tragic mass shooting in Texas and the revelation that the gunman was court-martialed for domestic violence while serving in the Air Force.
Federal law makes it illegal for anyone who is convicted of felony or misdemeanor domestic abuse to buy a firearm. Domestic abuse convictions should be entered into the central federal database that is used to perform background checks for firearm purchases. The Texas gunman's domestic violence court-martial was never entered into the federal database, allowing him to purchase several guns in recent years.
In Washington, it is illegal to attempt to purchase a gun in Washington after being convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony or while under a protective restraining order. A relatively new Washington law also requires that an illegal attempt to purchase a gun be reported to the victim of the convicted crime.
Seattle Domestic Violence Defense Options
The loss of your right to bear arms is just one of the consequences of a domestic violence conviction. If convicted of felony domestic violence in Washington, you could face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A domestic violence conviction is also likely to stay on your criminal background for the rest of your life, which can affect your future job, relationship and educational opportunities.
Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor with a proven track record of successfully defending those accused of domestic violence. Whether you are accused of a felony or a misdemeanor, he will fight to get your charges reduced or dismissed.