I-1491 would ‘fill a gap' in Washington law, supporters say

I-1491 would ‘fill a gap' in Washington law, supporters say

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A group of advocates fighting to end gun violence looks to be one step closer to its goal.

Stephanie Ervin, campaign manager for I-1491, says the initiative will "fill a gap" in state law by allowing family, household members, and police to petition the removal of guns from someone deemed unstable. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility turned in more than 330,000 signatures to the Secretary of State on Thursday, enough to put the initiative on the November ballot.

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The initiative would allow law enforcement to intervene before someone's access to guns "becomes a tragedy," she told KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz.

Similar to a protection order for domestic violence or sexual assault, the initiative would allow law enforcement or someone close to an individual to petition a court to have a potentially dangerous person’s weapons confiscated — as long as there was sufficient evidence. A judge would have 14 days to hear the case.

The Seattle Times points out that this effort follows that of the Legislature to create "extreme risk" protection orders, which failed. Three states, including California, have similar laws, the Times reports.

On the surface, Rantz sees the benefit to this effort. However, he is concerned that it could infringe upon our Second Amendment rights.

"That's always a concern," he told Ervin. "Because if you were to tell me that all of the sudden you confiscate my weapons I would say 'no, no, no, we have a constitutional right to bear arms."

Ervin ensured Rantz that the law would not allow that. People would be allowed their day in court before anyone could take their guns away.

"But if you're telling me the law doesn't grant that, I don't see where the controversy is, except this: Is there anything in this bill that might protect against abuse or someone who is hyper-sensitive to a perceived threat?"

The protection for gun owners is that it’s only family, household members, or law enforcement that can petition to have guns removed from someone’s possession. Plus, there is language that says if someone files a false petition they can be slapped with a misdemeanor.

This isn't the first gun-control measure for the Alliance. It successfully got voters to approve expanded background checks in 2014.