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House passes bill to save the lives of domestic violence victims

Today in Olympia, in a 97-0 vote, the House passed HB 1840, likely the only gun safety bill to come out of the legislature this year.

For years, advocates for victims and survivors of domestic violence have called for laws to remove firearms from domestic violence offenders.  More than half of the homicide victims in this country are women killed at the hands of their intimate partners, usually with a firearm.

Rep. Roger Goodman, on the bill’s passage said, “There are too many tragic deaths in our state. I think of Melissa Batten, a software developer in Redmond who secured a protection order against her estranged husband, who then shot Melissa eight times and turned the gun on himself.  Melissa’s life could have been saved.”

Under federal law, when a protection order is issued against a domestic violence offender he must surrender his firearms.  State law currently allows domestic abusers to keep an arsenal of weapons.

“Enough is enough,” Goodman said.  “It’s time for a common sense approach. This bill will help protect victims of domestic violence from the deadly threats of their abusers.  We need to give law enforcement and the courts the ability to disarm these known dangerous people and to save lives.”

HB 1840 aligns Washington state law with federal law by removing firearms from those subject to protection orders.  At the most volatile time in an abusive relationship, offenders will be required to surrender firearms.  If the protection order expires or is lifted, or if the offender is acquitted, firearms rights are then restored.

HB 1840 now heads to the Senate Law and Justice Committee for consideration.

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