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@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.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

King County prosecutor, council member propose hate crimes task force

County leaders say the proposal will give better resouces to prosecute and investigate hate crimes.

Photo courtesy of 4Culture
Local artists wanted to design limited-edition ORCA Cards

Applications due by 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 5.

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (jnj.com)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading

File Photo
High court ruling spurs effort to retool state’s drug laws

Meanwhile, the Blake decision has gotten people out jail, charges dismissed and possibly clemency for some.

Guns seized during April 7 arrests (photo credit: Dept. of Justice)
More than 20 arrested across the Puget Sound in drug distribution conspiracy

DOJ says law enforcement agencies seized over 70 guns and hundreds of thousands in cash.

T
Sheriff’s office wants help identifying Green River killer victim

Staff reports In 2003, Gary Ridgway, Washington’s notorious Green River killer, pleaded… Continue reading

file photo
King County municipal courts offer limited time warrant amnesty program

The program is intended to mitigate court backlog of warrants during pandemic.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. File photo
King County needs more lawyers to attack backlog of cases

6,107 open cases is double the normal amount for King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Starting April 15, everyone 16 and older is eligible for a vaccine

Gov. Inslee said an expected increase in vaccine supply enables the state to open eligibility.

Stock photo
Those who switched to telework have higher income, education and better health

U.S. Census Bureau report breaks down the numbers nationwide

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Phase Finder for vaccine eligibility to be eliminated March 31

Eligibility verification via Phase Finder no longer required for appointments, vaccinations beginning this week.