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Gun control measure has 330,000 signatures, supporters say

OLYMPIA -- Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee carries a carton of petitions for Initiative 1491, a gun control proposal, to the state elections office on July 7, 2016, as supporters announced they were turning in 330,000 signatures for the measure. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)
OLYMPIA -- Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee carries a carton of petitions for Initiative 1491, a gun control proposal, to the state elections office on July 7, 2016, as supporters announced they were turning in 330,000 signatures for the measure. (Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA -- Supporters of a gun control initiative said Thursday they have collected 330,000 signatures on a measure that would allow courts to issue "extreme protection orders" for people judged dangerous to themselves or others.

Supporters of Initiative 1491, who included Washington First Lady Trudi Inslee, delivered the first batch of those signatures -- some 13 cartons -- to the state elections office Thursday morning.

They stacked the cartons outside the door of the office to form a makeshift podium before carrying them inside where elections workers began the task of counting the petitions.

"We know way too many people who have been touched by gun violence," said Marilyn Balcerak, whose son bought a gun and committed suicide and killed his step-sister after being diagnosed as suicidal. "There was nothing I could do to keep him from getting a gun."

The law allows police or family members to ask a judge for a protection order for a person diagnosed as a danger to themselves or others, seizing their firearms for up to a year and banning them from purchases. Supporters tried in recent sessions to get similar provisions through the Legislature, but were unsuccessful.

Gun rights advocates contend the bill could result in "vindictive" orders being obtained against owners, because a temporary order of up to 14 days can be obtained ex parte, without the subject present.

Stephanie Ervin, the initiative campaign manager, said such temporary orders would be similar to protective orders in domestic violence cases and the subject of the order would have the right to contest the regular order. The measure also has criminal penalties for filing a false petition, she said. 

"There's nothing vindictive about a mother trying to protect her family," Ervin said. 

An initiative needs slightly less than 247,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Washington to be placed on the November ballot. Those with a cushion as large as I-1491 usually qualify.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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