Legislation to Confiscate Firearms in Domestic Violence Situations Moving Forward

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Jul 11

Lewis & Laws

Legislation to Confiscate Firearms in Domestic Violence Situations Moving Forward

by Lewis & Laws

Legislation to Confiscate Firearms in Domestic Violence Situations Moving Forward

As reported by the Peninsula Daily News, earlier this year a bill was introduced in the state Senate Rules Committee, which would require the removal of firearms from a domestic violence call if probable cause that a crime was committed was present.

The bill passed to the House of Representatives in March, with 60 voting in favor and 38 voting against (all those voting against were Republicans). The sponsor of the bill, Representative Laurie Jinkins, a Democrat from Tacoma, testified in support of the bill. Jinkins noted that the primary goal of the bill is to reduce the risks to all those involved in a domestic violence incident with heightened emotions.

Jinkins quoted a statistic which found that a person is five times as likely to be murdered in a domestic violence situation when a firearm is present. Jinkins further noted strong evidence that those who commit acts of domestic violence often use firearms as “tools of terror and intimidation” against their partners and children. Jinkins concluded her testimony by citing a Washington State Institute of Public Policy statistic which stated domestic violence is the single biggest predictor of any type of violent crime. 

How HB 1225 Would Change Current Regulations

Existing regulations regarding firearm confiscation in a domestic violence situation would be modified by House Bill 1225.  Existing regulations include notification protocols allowing household members to receive a notification when firearms are returned, and that return must be 24 hours from the time the firearm was taken by law enforcement.

HB 1225 would change this 24-hour period to five business days. During that five-day period, there would be checks to determine whether the individual is in compliance with state law and procedures, including required background checks.

Under House Bill 1225, police officers would be required to provide victims of domestic violence their legal rights as well as information on how to procure an order which requires the abuser to surrender his or her firearms as well as how to prohibit the abuser from possessing or accessing firearms.

Guns are the “weapon of choice” among domestic violence perpetrators who commit homicide. Those who back HB 1225 see it as offering “life-saving” protections to victims of domestic violence.

Does Keeping a Gun in the Home Increase or Decrease Safety?

In practice, House Bill 1225 would require police officers called to the scene of a domestic violence incident to separate those involved, then ask whether there are firearms or ammunition in the home and whether a firearm has been used in the past to threaten or coerce.

This information would then become a part of the information used by the judge to determine whether a no-contact order will be issued as well as to determine whether the defendant will be held or released.

Senator Mike Padden, a Republican from Spokane Valley spoke against the bill, stating those in the household would be unable to defend themselves without a firearm, however, Jinkins refuted the idea that keeping a firearm in the home increased safety.

Penalties Associated with Domestic Violence in Washington State

Simple assault DV, assault 4 DV, malicious mischief third-degree DV, interfering with reporting a crime of DV, harassment, and violation of a no-contact order are all considered gross misdemeanors, punishable by 0-364 days in jail and a fine as large as $5,000.

Domestic violence assault in the first, second or third-degree, DV malicious mischief in the first or second-degree, DV felony harassment and DV violation of a no-contact order with an assault, or two or more prior convictions are all felonies.

A Class A felony conviction results in penalties of up to life in prison and a fine as large as $50,000. A Class B felony conviction results in penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a fine as large as $20,000. A Class C felony conviction results in up to 5 years in prison and a fine as large as $10,000.

Getting Help From Seattle Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys at Lewis & Laws, PLLC

If you are charged with domestic violence in Seattle, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible to ensure your rights and your future are protected.

The experienced lawyers at Lewis & Laws, PLLC  have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form.

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