Washington State Firearm Confiscation Law Found Unconstitutional

Washington State Firearm Confiscation Law Found Unconstitutional

Earlier this year, in a ruling of first impression in Washington State, the Kitsap County District Court decided that the state’s compulsory “firearm surrender” laws violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendments and the analogous provisions in the state constitution. “In our constitutional system of government, individuals have rights that the government and its agents (including courts) must respect. Among those rights are the right to be free from compelled self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, and their counterparts under Washington’s constitution.” To appreciate the ruling, it is necessary to understand the underlying statutory framework. Washington State courts issuing certain protection orders in a civil or criminal case have the authority, or are required, to also order that the restrained person retrieve and “immediately surrender” to law enforcement all firearms and dangerous weapons that the person possesses or has control over, as well as any concealed pistol license (CPL). As soon as the order is issued, the restrained person becomes prohibited from possessing, acquiring or accessing firearms and weapons, and is ineligible for a CPL. Within five days of the order, a restrained person must file with the court a written proof of surrender in a prescribed form, under oath (or alternatively, a declaration that he or she has no guns, weapons or CPL to surrender). The state law directs, further, that the court must “verify timely and complete compliance with orders to surrender weapons” by holding […]

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