What is an “Extreme Risk Protection Order?” Would i-1491 Have been Able to Stop Yesterday’s Tragic Event?

Many of you woke up this morning to the news that yet another mass shooting has occurred. On September 23rd in Arlington, about an hour north of Seattle, a lone gunner shot and killed 4 women and one man at the cosmetic counter of a Macy’s inside the mall. According to witnesses speaking to Kiro news, the man was heard yelling a women’s name. Details are still forthcoming but this horrific incident prompts us to take another look at gun safety and domestic violence here in Washington.

Separation and divorce are times of high emotion for anyone, but add guns or mental health issues into the mix and violence is often the tragic outcome. Washington already seeks to protect those at risk through a set of laws that strip gun rights in specific situations, such as through a protective order. These orders often can’t come quick enough for those in immediate volatile situations. I-1491 seeks to address that.

At the moment a person in crisis, either showing threatening behavior or mental health crisis, has to be committed for a specific period of time. This new proposal would allow courts to step in during emergency situations to protect those at risk, without the often difficult step of commitment. Anyone in the household, dating partners, or law-enforcement officers would be able to petition the Washington State Superior Court judge to restrict the person-in-crises’ gun possession and purchasing rights for up to a year.

Would i-1491 have been able to stop yesterday’s tragic event? It is still too early to tell. But it may be able to save countless others across the state. For assistance with a domestic violence situation, seeking a protection order, or in planning your separation or divorce please contact contact Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC for a free consultation.

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