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

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

Demonstrators from La Resistencia protest Amazon’s involvement with ICE. Photo courtesy of La Resistencia
How will the U.S. respond to climate refugees?

Business as usual has been harder borders, are there other ways to address climate migration?

File photo of a pothole
King County approves roads, bridges funding

The capital projects funding is significantly less than previous years.

Safe drug consumption sites have been recommended by the King County Heroin and Opioid Task Force. Pictured is a safe consumption site in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge
What’s been happening with safe injection sites?

There hasn’t been much coverage this year compared to the last couple years.

Turkeys Nonni, Noelle, November and Nora at Rooster Haus Rescue in Fall City. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
Turkey rescue: No bird on Thanksgiving menu at this King County sanctuary

“There’s a huge need for roosters. They often end up neglected and abused.”

A “notice to vacate” sign was placed in the middle of a homeless encampment in Federal Way by FWPD officers before the encampment was cleaned in January 2019. Sound Publishing file photo
King County, Seattle could create joint homelessness response agency

It would be a unified agency and the overarching authority on addressing homelessness in the county.

King County parents are still struggling with child care

A new report looks at the effects on parents here and across the state.

The Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is the only active landfill in King County. It will operate until at least 2028. It has been in operation since the 1960s. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Study on shipping or burning King County trash released

The report fleshes out the two main options for trash disposal over the next 50 years.

Most Read