Seattle Mayor outlines plan to reduce gun violence

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan sat down with KIRO-7 to reveal her plan to reduce gun violence.

"We don't have to wait for Washington D.C. We don't have to wait for our state capitals. We can act and we should act," Durkan said Tuesday afternoon.

The plan calls for new legislation that will require the safe storage of firearms.

"If you're going to be away from your gun in the city of Seattle, in your car or in your home, you have to lock it up," Durkan said.

The legislation will be introduced by Seattle City Councilwoman Lorena Gonzalez. "The city of Seattle, with the leadership of the City Council and the mayor, is taking seriously the call to action we're hearing from parents and youth in our city and across the nation, to act where we can act," said Gonzalez.

Mayor Durkan will also make sure residents know about Extreme Risk Protection Orders, or EPOs. If someone has a weapon and is a risk to themselves or others, a new law gives family members, household members and law enforcement agencies a way to petition the court to restrict access to a firearm while that person is going through a mental health crisis.

"Really, this is a mechanism for family members to protect themselves and their loved ones," said Durkan.

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The city is launching a new website with information about how Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which went into effect in June 2017, work.

In May 2012, Ian Stawicki killed five people at Cafe Racer, and then killed himself. After the mass killing, his father told investigators he'd been concerned about his son.

"We had a family there who was particularly concerned about the mental health status of their son, who was exhibiting behavior that was concerining, and they thought he might be a danger to himself," said interim Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. "This would have been an opportunity for us to intervene and potentially secure weapons."

Best said of the ERPO, "It must go through the court. It must be approved by the judge, and there is a process for the person to petition the court to get their weapons back. Again, this is temporary. This certainly isn't the police going around grabbing guns from every citizen who wants to have their Second Amendment rights. Most officers support second amendment rights. What we don't want is to have people who are in crisis -- we want them to have less access to guns."

So far, in Seattle, 18 extreme risk protection orders have been petitioned by police, and 37 weapons have been recovered. Of those incidents, about 60 percent were to prevent suicides, and about 40 percent were to prevent violence against others.

Durkan also announced that funds from the gun and ammunition tax in 2018 will be used to fund gun violence research at Harborview Medical Center.