Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today to update Washington’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) statute so that it’s more applicable to minors.

Senate Bill 5027 was sponsored by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). The terms of the bill came at the unanimous recommendation of the Mass Shooting Workgroup, which met during the 2018 interim after the shooting in Parkland, Fla. and school shooting incidents in Washington. 

“We are unfortunately raising a generation of children who are the lockdown generation, who are used to active shooter drills,” Frockt said. “We’re trying to prevent these shootings through a variety of avenues, including better threat assessment, improved social and emotional supports and by removing access to weapons from the equation for those exhibiting threats to classmates.”

The bill clarifies the application of ERPOs to minors, and is designed to keep firearms out of the hands of minors who are at a high risk of hurting themselves or others during a behavioral health crisis or through potential violent behavior.

The bill allows for people to apply for ERPOs for people under the age of 18. If court approved, an order would prohibit the minor from accessing, controlling, purchasing, possessing or receiving a firearm. The minor’s parent or guardian would be notified of their legal obligation to safely secure any firearms.

The Mass Shooting Workgroup, comprised of representatives from all parts of Washington, heard extensively about how the ERPO process can and should be applied when warranted, and that it should be extended to these youth with notification to their parents or guardians.  This common sense measure drew bipartisan support in the Senate.

According to a report by Everytown for Gun Safety, shooters exhibited warning signs indicating that they posed a danger to themselves or others before shooting in about half of all mass shootings.

“We know that in the majority of cases, school shooters obtain firearms from their homes, or the homes of a friend or a relative,” Frockt said. “We know that these troubled teens often exhibit warning signs. This bill addresses both of those trends by making sure that minors who are in crisis don’t have easy access to guns.”

Background

Frockt introduced the original ERPO statute as a bill in 2015. After the legislation stalled for two years, Washington voters enacted an ERPO initiative in 2016, with an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote. The measure had strong support in nearly every corner of the state.

Washington was the fourth state in the country to enact such a law. Nine other states have since passed similar measures. The ERPO statute allows people to petition the court to remove someone’s firearms if that person poses a significant danger to themselves or others.