Bill Would Require Police To Confiscate Firearms In Washington State Domestic Violence Situations

On April 26, the Washington State Legislature passed a controversial measure that would require police officers responding to a domestic violence call to confiscate all firearms and ammunition in the home if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 5, with 60 voting in favor and 38 voting in opposition. All opposing voters were Republicans. Under the bill, HB 1225, police officers responding to a domestic violence call must:

  • seize all firearms and ammunition that the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe were used or threatened to be used in the commission of the offense,
  • seize all firearms in plain sight or discovered pursuant to a lawful search and
  • request consent to take temporary custody of any other firearms and ammunition to which the alleged abuser has access until a judicial officer has heard the matter.

The officers must separate the parties and ask the victim if any ammunition or firearms are in the home that are owned or possessed by either party, if the alleged abuser has access to any other firearms located off-site and whether the alleged abuser has an active concealed pistol license. Those weapons would then be confiscated. Since even weapons belonging to the victims may be confiscated, the bill has been opposed by women's rights and domestic violence support groups, who do not want victims to be deprived of protection. Supporters of the bill, now on the governor's desk to sign, say it would prevent future acts of violence using firearms. Confiscated firearms and ammunition must be returned within five business days after being obtained by law enforcement if it is determined that the owner is in compliance with state law and procedures regarding gun ownership eligibility, including background checks.

Peale Law Firm in Seattle, Washington avidly protects defendants' rights in domestic violence cases. If you face domestic violence charges, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide valuable guidance and representation. Call us at (206) 429-4777 or contact us online for a free consultation.