Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, speaks for her proposal to add domestic harassment to the crimes that could cost a person their gun rights. Photo by Taylor McAvoy

Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, speaks for her proposal to add domestic harassment to the crimes that could cost a person their gun rights. Photo by Taylor McAvoy

Senator proposes revoking firearm rights in cases of harassment

The bill would expand an existing law that takes guns from perpetrators of domestic violence.

A proposed bill would add harassment to a list of domestic violence crimes for which someone can have their firearm rights revoked.

SB 6298, sponsored by Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, adds harassment crimes in a domestic violence setting to existing law. The bill was heard on Tuesday.

Under both existing law and the Dhingra’s bill, a person must be convicted of a domestic violence felony or gross misdemeanor to have their firearm rights revoked.

Harassment, which is a gross misdemeanor, not a felony, would be included under the bill. Harassment includes physical threats or threats that instill reasonable fear and are likely to be carried out.

“We can’t ignore that these threats are promises to a victim,” Chris Anderson, director of the Domestic Violence Unit for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, said.

Protective order cases, he said, often show patterns of domestic abuse, threats, and harassment that can be more serious than individual incidents reported in 911 calls.

“The most statistically significant thing we can do is remove firearms from the situation,” he said.

Anderson also said that because felony level domestic violence cases are sometimes hard to prove, the court might settle for a plea-bargained misdemeanor. Including misdemeanors, the bill would more accurately represent a perpetrator’s past history of violence.

Washington state already has a law prohibiting those convicted of domestic violence from owning a gun. That includes felonies like assault, stalking, death threats, or violating a protection order. When someone is convicted of a crime, he or she must surrender any firearms to the court. In 2014, the legislature enacted a law that someone must surrender their firearms to the court when there is a protection order issued against them. He or she can, however, petition the court to restore those rights.

Under Sheena’s Law, passed in 2015, law enforcement must notify family members when a previously surrendered firearm is returned to that person. A 2016 law allows family members to petition courts to remove firearms from those who pose a risk to themselves or others.

Implementation of these laws is challenging because, according to the Seattle City Attorney Annual Report, it requires a multi-systematic force made up of county police departments, court and prosecutor’s offices, and state coalitions and associations advocating for gun safety and against domestic violence.

Nearly one in three women experience some sort of domestic abuse, according to a the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The same study said homicide is five times more likely when a gun is present during a domestic violence incident.

Tamaso Johnson, public policy director for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the bill addresses key gaps in the criminal justice system because the courts currently don’t look too much at the past history of a perpetrator in domestic violence cases.

He said the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence found, in their Domestic Violence Fatality Review, patterns of harassment were closely coordinated with homicide rates.

A study from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund shows a correlation with mass shootings. The study found that in 54 percent of mass shootings in the U.S. the perpetrator also shot a family member or partner.

“If this legislature is committed to taking steps to end violence in communities and gun violence in general, this bill is a critical step in that direction,” Johnson said.

This report was produced by the Olympia bureau of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Northwest

Stock photo
First-time home buyers increasingly priced out of Washington housing market

Building Industry Association of Washington says state’s median home price is $522,023

t
King County Elections seeks better voter turnout in historically excluded communities

$950,000 in grants to be distributed over next two years to groups

Washington State Supreme Court Justices (back row, L-R) Raquel Montoya-Lewis, Sheryl Gordon McCloud, Mary I. Yu, G. Helen Whitener, (front row, L-R) Susan Owens, Charles W. Johnson, Steven C. Gonzalez, Barbara A. Madsen and Debra L. Stephens.
Justices strike down Washington state drug possession law

Police must stop arresting people for simple possession.

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

Stock photo
New state modeling report explores options for safer return to in-person learning

Explores how to minimize COVID-19 introductions in schools

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Most Read