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Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday signed a bill into law that places a six-month suspension on a person’s right to possess a firearm when that individual is detained under the state Involuntary Treatment Act.
“It’s clear that access to firearms makes it easier to act on suicidal thoughts in a single moment of desperation,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue. “There are very few ‘do-overs’ when a gun is used, and this is a reasonable safety measure for the individual in crisis and for others in our communities.”
The suspension applies to those who detained for up to 72 hours for evaluation and treatment of a mental health or substance abuse disorder, even if he or she is not subsequently committed.
The new law, which takes effect in late July, allows individuals whose gun rights are suspended to petition a Superior Court to get them restored earlier than six months. The burden of proof would be on the state to establish why the person should not get those rights back. The person’s right to possess a firearm is automatically restored when the six-month suspension ends.
Kuderer cited statistics that 1,292 state residents committed suicide in 2017, with almost half using a firearm.
“If someone is involuntarily committed during a time of crisis while exhibiting signs of violence toward their family, the public or themselves, it is in the interest of all parties to take lethal weapons out of the equation,” said Kuderer. “Today we have made real progress that will spare individuals and those they love the tragedy of a life lost too soon.”