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Domestic violence harassers could lose gun rights

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 9, 2018, 10:04 p.m.

Spring daffodils are shown emerging from the ground, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., as pedestrians walk on a sidewalk leading to the Legislative Building during the 2018 regular session of the Washington State Legislature. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Spring daffodils are shown emerging from the ground, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., as pedestrians walk on a sidewalk leading to the Legislative Building during the 2018 regular session of the Washington State Legislature. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

A person convicted of domestic violence harassment could lose their right to own or buy a firearm under a bill that passed the Senate on Friday.

In a bipartisan vote, the Senate sent the House a bill that sponsor Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, said would treat all domestic violence crimes equally. Under current law, a person convicted of felony domestic violence crimes loses their right to own firearms, while someone convicted of domestic violence harassment – usually a gross misdemeanor – does not see their ownership rights revoked.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said the bill was too broad, encompassing too many forms of harassment, including those that do not involve a threat of violence with a firearm. The Legislature should be cautious about taking away a constitutional right, he said.

But Dhingra said the person would only lose gun rights after the harassment was reported by the victim, investigated by law enforcement, charged by a prosecutor and convicted in court. It would help ensure that harassment victims don’t become victims of further domestic violence.

In other action, the Senate unanimously passed two bills designed to provide domestic violence victims with with real-time notification if their abusers are nearby.

The firearms bill passed 34-13. Among Spokane area senators, Democrat Andy Billig voted yes, Republicans Padden, Mark Schoesler and Shelly Short voted no and Republican Mike Baumgartner was excused.