Recently the Washington State legislature passed legislation (SHB 2622, effective June 11, 2020) enabling courts to take more aggressive measures when a person has been found to have committed domestic violence and yet outright disobeys a court’s order to surrender his firearm(s) and/or other dangerous weapon(s).
Under the new legislation, civil contempt proceedings are authorized to be brought against those folks who are deemed to not have complied with a court’s weapons surrender order. Either a court, on its own, or a prosecutor, can initiate the contempt hearing. If it is found that a weapon was not surrendered, the court can find the abuser ‘in contempt’ and may impose remedial sanctions designed to ensure ‘swift compliance’ with the court’s order to surrender weapons.
In short – under the new legislation – the list of folks who have standing to bring a contempt hearing has been expanded, and any uncertainty as to the remedy for a failure to surrender weapons has been removed. It is hoped that this legislation enhances the safety for survivors of domestic violence by ensuring swift and certain compliance with a court’s requirement to turn over weapons – guns and other dangerous things, i.e. knifes, nun chucks etc..
Of course, this, like all similar legislation, will most assuredly raise issues regarding our constitutional right to bear arms. In light of this, we shall see how SHB 2622 plays out in real time.
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