In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at a small church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, it was revealed that the murderer of 26 innocent people — who wounded about 20 others — had a history of domestic violence.
Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic errors on the part of the Air Force, the troubled and violent individual wasn’t entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which resulted in him purchasing the weapon used in the mass murder despite being a prohibited possessor by law.
Now it would appear that at least one locale in Washington state, King County, is taking proactive measures to guard against such a thing occurring in their area. Council members unanimously approved funding for a task force to go after domestic abusers who have failed to turn in their firearms to authorities, as required by federal law, according to KING5.
“Too many times weapons aren’t being surrendered,” lamented King County Council chair Joe McDermott. “The perpetrator is denying that they even exist and we know that’s not true in many cases.”
The $600,000 plus appropriation will largely go toward hiring more police officers and prosecutors with a purpose of stepping up enforcement of the already existing laws regarding the forfeiture of gun rights by convicted domestic abusers and those temporarily restricted by a restraining order.
They will likely also combine their efforts with that of the Regional Domestic Violence and Firearms Enforcement Unit created earlier in the year by the Seattle City Council.
A separate report from KING5 revealed that less than half of those individuals didn’t respond to orders to turn in their firearms or even show up for hearings, and of those who did show up, many lied while swearing under oath that they didn’t possess any firearms when they in fact did.
The new task force, bolstered by additional funding and personnel, have been scouring domestic violence and protection order records in the county and following up with questions for victims and witnesses to determine if firearms are still in the possession of those who have been prohibited from possessing them.
The task force has already met with some success in their efforts, recovering several firearms from individuals who had lied under oath about not having any. Nonetheless, their work is still cut out for them due to the noncompliance with the law that had previously replied largely upon the “honor system.”
It is worth noting that, while we certainly don’t quibble with law enforcement efforts at confiscating firearms from individuals deemed by law to be prohibited from possessing them — such as domestic abusers and convicted criminals — we nevertheless hold some concern that the task force could be expanded to go after other gun owners more broadly at some point.
That worry has already been somewhat realized in California, where The Mercury News reported on both the praise and criticisms of the state’s Armed and Prohibited Persons Registry.
The APP Registry, which is essentially a database of gun owners that is cross-referenced with criminal and mental health records, was intended to identify individuals “who have been, or will become, prohibited from possessing a firearm subsequent to the legal acquisition or registration of a firearm or assault weapon.”
Using the registry, agents of the state proactively seek out and track down those who are prohibited to ensure they have turned in their weapons or arrest the person and seize the firearms if they have not.
Unfortunately, there is a massive backlog of new entrants to the registry and older entrants who should have only been temporarily listed remain after they should have been removed, meaning some innocent gun owners have had their Second Amendment rights infringed while other dangerous criminals have escaped notice by the state’s bungling bureaucracy.
In other words, just as Second Amendment advocates have long warned, the registry has made it easier for the state to take guns from those who have lawfully registered their firearms with the state, while ignoring the criminals who illegally purchase weapons and refuse to register them.
Again, to be perfectly clear, we have no problem with — and indeed applaud the effort — to confiscate firearms from dangerous convicted felons and domestic abusers who are already by law prohibited from possessing such weapons.
We will nevertheless keep a skeptical and watchful eye on this King County task force as they proceed, to ensure they remain in their lane and only go after those they are ostensibly targeting, and not after lawful gun owners.
H/T Bearing Arms
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