OLYMPIA — Courts could be one step closer to ordering people subject to vulnerable adult protection orders to surrender their firearms after the state House voted 55 to 42 in favor of a bill that expands that authority.
House Bill 2305, which passed last Friday, would allow courts issuing a vulnerable adult protection order to consider whether a person named as an abuser should surrender their firearms or concealed carry license.
“This bill gives judges the same tools they have for other protection orders to order the surrender of firearms if there is evidence that the subject of the order has used or threatened to use a firearm,” said the bill’s prime sponsor, Beth Doglio, D-Olympia.
Currently, the court can order the surrender of firearms by people subject to other kinds of protection and restraining orders, including domestic violence and stalking, but not for those issued to protect vulnerable adults.
In a House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee hearing for the bill, Rep. Morgan Irwin, R-Enumclaw, asked if the bill brought forth any pre-emptive protections that did not already exist. Irwin said that firearm-surrender orders require previous evidence of threat and that this policy change would not provide legal protections additional to the court protection orders that already exist.
Vulnerable adult protection orders are typically issued for individuals over 60 and who have been deemed by the court to be unfit to take care of themselves, legally incapacitated or have developmental disabilities.
A vulnerable adult who is suffering from abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation or neglect can petition a superior court for a protection order or an interested person acting on their behalf can seek one for them.
If the bill moves through the Senate and is signed into law, individuals possessing firearms in violation of such court orders could be subject to a second degree unlawful possession of a firearm charge.
Matthew Aimonetti, a representative of the Pink Pistols gun and LGBTQ rights advocacy group, testified to the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee in opposition to the bill. Aimonetti claimed the legislation lacked due process and had the potential to be used maliciously against people.
Aimonetti said the bill denies Second Amendment rights to individuals without criminal charges being filed or being convicted of a crime.
This story is part of a series of news reports from the Washington State Legislature provided through a reporting internship sponsored by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation.