Voluntary waiver of firearm rights is close to becoming law

The bill would allow those who feel they are at risk of suicide to add their name to a do-not-sell list.

A bill that would allow people at risk of suicide to voluntarily give up their gun rights passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 77-20 on Friday, Feb. 23. The bill had already passed the Senate unanimously on Jan. 24.

SB 5553 allows a person to waive their rights to a firearm for at least seven days if they believe they are prone to moments of suicidal thoughts. The bill as it passed the House was amended to add protections for an applicant’s identity, which must be verified through a county clerk. The amendment would require the waiver to be entered into the national instant criminal background check system to identify prohibited purchasers. Waivers would be exempt from the Public Records Act and would only be disclosed to law enforcement.

“We are trying to take all the steps we can to move forward,” Representative Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, said during floor debate in the House of Representatives.

The language of the bill is problematic, Representative Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver said. She voiced concerns that people might interpret the bill as a waiver of Second Amendment rights and suggested that it could be termed more akin to a “do not sell” list.

“It allows you, in a moment of lucidity, to say when I get into those moments, please don’t sell me a gun,” Representative Paul Graves, R-Fall City, said during floor debate.

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Washington state according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the state’s annual rate is higher than the national rate.

A chart from nonprofit suicide prevention and education organization Forefront shows that 47 percent of the 1,129 suicides in Washington State in 2015 involved a firearm.

The bill will go back to the Senate, where it will be reconsidered with the amendment.

Suicide is a public health issue. If you need help, please call the suicide lifeline at 800-273-8255, the teen lifeline at 866-833-6546 or text 741741 for the crisis text line. Counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This report was produced by the Olympia bureau of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

More in Northwest

Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia 
                                Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26.
Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

Spring Chinook salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish and Wildlife Service
State awards millions for salmon recovery

Puget Sound counties received more than $45 million.

King County Correctional Facility is located at 500 5th Ave., Seattle. File photo
King County jail’s leaky pipes have national implications

Lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court alleges Aquatherm has been selling faulty pipes.

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

PSE’s battery storage project could help the clean energy roll-out

The tiny pilot project in Glacier could eventually be expanded.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Mukilteo schools may soon have state’s highest paid teachers

Teachers ratified a new contract Monday and the Board of Education will consider it next month.

Among 9 other candidates, Inslee gets his 6 minutes of fame

Here’s what the governor, a longshot presidential candidate, said in Miami Wednesday night.

What’s next for Washington’s 2045 green energy goal?

The Legislature set the goal, but how does the state actually get there?

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

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

Climbers rescued after days on Rainier

Several rescue attempts went awry, thanks to bad weather and flying conditions.