The good folks at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility – yes, I’m on their mailing list – sent me this email today. The subject line was “worried.” It goes like:
I’m not quite sure how support can go “through the rough,” but I guess it can. (You may also want to check out the endorsements for I-1491. Just for kicks and grins.)
Anyway, Initiative 1491 has to do with “extreme risk protection orders.” According to proponents, it will allow families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent access to firearms by people who, because of mental illness or other factors, may harm themselves or others. It’s an important next step in protecting Washington State communities from the devastating effects of gun violence.
Did you catch it? There are several issues here that oughtta give you cause for pause. Like, “or other factors.” What in the h-e double hockey sticks does that mean? Who decides? How? Based on what?
Also, this initiative “will allow families and law enforcement to temporarily prevent access to firearms…” What does that mean?
Let’s say you have a fight with your girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Or parent. Uncle Elmer or Aunt Flo. They accuse you of …. Whatever. And now they can “temporarily prevent” your access to a firearm? How long is “temporary”? Who decides? Call me cynical, but doesn’t this seem a wee bit ripe for abuse – or personal vendetta payback?
Here’s another part I have a wee bit of trouble with. Under Section 4. Read this first. Then I’ll tell you why:
(1) A petition for an extreme risk protection order may be filed by (a) a family or household member of the respondent or (b) a law enforcement officer or agency.
(2) An action under this chapter must be filed in the county where the petitioner resides or the county where the respondent resides.
(3) A petition must:
(a) Allege that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm, and be accompanied by an affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the respondent.
Did you catch it again? Look at (3) (a): A person may “allege” that… Not prove. Not substantiate. But “allege.” (We all know that no one would ever file a false affidavit, right?) And how in the heck does one person crawl into another’s head and determine what “future dangerous acts” someone may have up his or her sleeve? What is this, Mind Readers of Washington, Unite?
Also, what does “a family or house member” mean? This is kinda important. It’s a pretty wide net:
(4) The court administrator shall verify the terms of any existing order governing the parties. The court may not delay granting relief because of the existence of a pending action between the parties or the necessity of verifying the terms of an existing order. A petition for an extreme risk protection order may be granted whether or not there is a pending action between the parties.
And so on. You can find the entire text of I-1491 here. It’s 21 pages.
Well, shoot (pun intended). How can this be? Wasn’t the last Chicken Little initiative, I-594, supposed to solve all our “gun violence” problems? Keep us safe? Stop domestic violence? “Close the gun show loop hole”? It passed. So what’s with another initiative to do pretty much the same thing, from a different angle? (You may want to connect those dots.)
I can appreciate the desire to protect folks from deranged nut cases. But how is an emotional knee-jerky ballot initiative going to address the core issue, which is a heart issue? How do you legislate – or anticipate – how someone else thinks or feels? (Don’t worry. The Marquise de Kleptocratia & Co. will try.)
So I have a few problems with I-1491. The short list includes violations of the Second and Fourth Amendments and the lack of due process. But who’s counting? Meanwhile, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility (don’t you just love that title?) is seeing its money well dry up. Oh, boo hoo.
Pass me another tissue.