OLYMPIA – Courts could be one step closer to ordering people subject to vulnerable adult protection orders to surrender their firearms after the House voted 55 to 42 on Friday, Feb. 14 in favor of a bill that expands authority to do so.
House Bill 2305 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 from 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 raised the point 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 years of age who are deemed by the court to be unfit to take care of themselves, are legally incapacitated, or have developmental disabilities.
A vulnerable adult who is suffering from abandonment, abuse, financial exploitation, or neglect may petition the superior court for a protection order, or an interested person acting on their behalf may also seek a protection order for them.
If the bill moves through the Senate and is signed into law, individuals possessing firearms in violation of the court order could be subject to an unlawful possession of a firearm charge in the second degree.
Matthew Aimonetti, 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.
Cameron Sheppard is a reporter with the WNPA News Service.