Perpetrators of domestic violence harassment could lose firearm rights

Proposed SB 6298 adds harassment crimes in a domestic violence setting to existing law.

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, Jan. 23.

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.

More in News

Stabbing at Cheers Bar & Grill results in officer shots fired, one deceased.

This story will be updated as more information is available.

Renton man says shooting was “a dominance thing”

Wendell Wilson faces murder charges after shooting his daughter during an argument

Renton elementary music teacher charged with child porn possession

Chris Newcombe, 35, has also taught in Federal Way and other schools throughout Puget Sound.

Teen suspect in Renton rape may be charged as an adult

Charging documents outline how police investigated and arrested the suspect

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Native American story teller and musician Paul Cheokten Wagner music & art provided music and stories at Renton School’s celebration of Native American graduates. Photo courtesy of Renton Schools.
                                 Native American story teller and musician Paul Cheokten Wagner music & art provided music and stories at Renton School’s celebration of Native American graduates. Photo courtesy of Renton Schools.
                                 Native American story teller and musician Paul Cheokten Wagner music & art provided music and stories at Renton School’s celebration of Native American graduates. Photo courtesy of Renton Schools.
Honoring heritage and achievement

Native American seniors from Renton were celebrated in a special ceremony

They could have met Mickey, but chose to help others

Hazen High School students spend time volunteering over fun at Disney World

Photo by Haley Ausbun. The fence now has woven with colorful privacy tape, plaques containing six languages and over 100 symbols that were created by students and residents in the Sunset neighborhood.
“A fence that unites” – City dedicates new Sunsent Boulevard art

Tape weaving in a fence on Sunset Boulevard finished over the weekend

Renton schools awarded for improvements

In an effort to be more equitable, Washington state offered three Renton… Continue reading

Most Read