KIRO: WA Voters Approve Initiative 1491 Allowing Temporary Suspension of Firearms Access

I-1491 is just the first piece of Bloomberg’s agenda for Washington and the West Coast.


Voters approved a measure to reduce gun violence by taking firearms away from people who are found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others.

Initiative 1491 will allow families of people in crisis to ask a judge to issue an extreme-risk protection orders that would temporarily prevent their loved ones from having access to firearms.

The “extreme-risk protection orders,” modeled after domestic violence restraining orders, would require a court hearing and due process protections to remove guns from a person in crisis.

The citizen sponsor of Washington state ballot Initiative 1491 believes her son and daughter would still be alive if “extreme-risk protection orders” had been legal two years ago.

When Marilyn Balcerak’s mentally ill son became increasingly violent and potentially suicidal, she repeatedly asked the police how she could keep guns out of his hands. She was told she could get a restraining order or wait until he committed a felony, which would make it illegal to buy a firearm.

But he legally purchased a firearm at a local Fred Meyer and killed his step-sister and then himself.

“I was powerless to stop it,” Balcerak said. “If extreme-risk protection orders had been law two years ago, James would never have been able to buy that gun.

Opponents of the initiative fear the protection orders could be misused by vindictive ex-partners.

“There is a concern that this kind of legislation is open to abuse by people who make a complaint in a divorce case or ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, that sort of thing,” said Dave Workman with the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Federation. “I think we have to be sensitive to that.”

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