Is the government already pushing forward with confiscating guns and restricting access to firearms? For one Seattle man, that certainly seems to be the case. Seattle Police sought a court order under a controversial new Extreme Risk Protection law that restricts people from access if the court determines them to be mentally unwell, unstable, or threatening. The man is accused of “walking around with his gun and staring at people” – hardly a crime anywhere in America.
• The man has not yet been named by news outlets to protect his privacy. We do know he resides in Belltown and was 31 years old at the time of the confiscation.
• Specifically, he is accused of intimidation in the form of staring neighbors down through windows while carrying a firearm. It’s critical to note that the man has never been arrested or convicted of any known violent crime, including harassment, assault or a prior gun crime.
• Neighbor Tony Montana, who spoke to local news station KATU2, reported feeling afraid for his life. “He was roaming the hallways with a .25 caliber automatic,” he said. “…it created a lot of fear obviously because I didn’t know if he was coming after me or gonna just start shooting the place up.”
•The same news station reports the man “is known to” local bars and restaurants, but it wasn’t clear exactly what this means. Montana is apparently one of many locals to complain about the man’s alleged suspicious behavior over previous months.
• Initially, police issued the ERPO under the assumption that he would turn it over voluntarily. When he refused, they took the request back to the issuing judge, where they were granted a warrant. The Extreme Risk Protection Law allowed the judge to sign off on forcible removal, after which police attended his apartment and took the firearm into their possession.
• Seattle police have revealed that the man isn’t the first to lose his firearm to the ERPO law. They confirm “dozens” of ERPOs successfully carried out throughout the state. They are the first and only organization to forcibly remove a weapon after the owner refused to relinquish it.
• Seattle Police Department Crisis Response Team leader Sgt. Eric Pisconski spoke to the media on the issue shortly after it happened. “There’s certainly a big concern of the connection between mental health and people exhibiting violent behavior and whether or not they should have access to firearms. The ‘erpos’ give us that tool now as an option,” he said.
• Seattle’s ERPOs last just one year, after which time they must be re-enacted or dropped. The length or reason for the ERPO is concerning, but this case specifically concerns experts because there is no clear evidence of fault, crime, or even mental health issues. It’s a stark reminder of the current flux in America’s attitude towards guns.