The Washington Legislature should be inspired by voters and pass common-sense gun laws.
WASHINGTON state has taken another common-sense step toward gun safety. The ballot initiative that will create a court procedure to keep guns away from people who are a threat to themselves or others passed on Tuesday.
Initiative 1491 will fill in some gaps in existing state laws that already take guns away from people in certain circumstances, such as those that are part of civil-protection orders in domestic-violence situations. But existing laws set too high a bar for immediate action when people are trying to save someone who is suicidal or stop someone who has made violent threats against friends or family members.
Initiative 1491 sets up a court procedure for a judge to issue extreme-risk protection orders to temporarily prevent someone from accessing firearms if there is demonstrated evidence the person is in danger or has made a credible threat against another person.
It’s a sensible change to the law supported by people across the political spectrum. And it’s an idea the Legislature should have enacted earlier this year. Were lawmakers running for re-election afraid a majority of voters would think gun ownership is more important than gun safety and suicide prevention?
It’s time for lawmakers to stop leaving bold ideas strictly in the hands of voters. The initiative process is imperfect, and every law passed this way is flawed. Bills that make it through the give-and-take of the legislative process are almost always improved.
Next up in the arena of common-sense gun safety: a proposed ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. These weapons are not needed by hunters nor people protecting their families from home invaders.
Washington state could continue to set the tone in this debate by continuing to pass common-sense legislation like the extreme-risk protection order, universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.