It’s impossible to prove a negative.
In 2016, voters passed Initiative 1490, which created the Extreme Risk Protection Order. It’s civil process under which an adult can be temporarily prohibited from owning or possessing firearms if a court deems them a high risk for hurting themselves or others.
The state Senate recently passed a bill that would extend the Extreme Risk Protection Orders to minors, requiring parents to be notified and to safely store firearms.
It was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Hopefully it will pass the House with similar across-the-aisle cooperation.
Under the current law, either police or family members can petition the court for an order to be served on a troubled person.
The process is not used extensively. During the first year in which it was enacted intolaw, for example, Seattle police seized 43 guns from people who were considered a high risk.
It’s been used at least twice in Island County, by the Washington State Patrol and Oak Harbor Police.
What nobody knows is how effective the law has been since the goal is to prevent something from happening. But it gives police and families a tool when someone in a mental health crisis makes threats or acts in a threatening manner.
The NRA sent mixed messages about its stance on the so-called red flag laws.
A top lobbyist said last year that it might support some laws with certain conditions, but the NRA website says it was opposed to the Washington state bill because it infringes on the rights of household members without due process.
The much more sweeping gun-control initiative passed by voters in November may have problems, both constitutionally and procedurally, and will ultimately be decided by the courts.
The creation of Extreme Risk Protection Order, however, is one modest measure that should be supported by everyone.