Tag Archives: seattle

Seattle Police Achieve State’s First “Red Flag Law” Gun Seizure

Seattle, WA— A law that went into effect in 2017 introduced the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), which allows law enforcement in the state of Washington to confiscate a gun owner’s firearms if the owner is deemed a threat to themselves or others by a judge. This law, also referred to as a “red flag” gun law, has led Seattle to become Washington’s first city to use the law to confiscate a firearm from an individual.

Acting as petitioners, law enforcement agencies, blood-related and adopted relatives, married partners, romantic partners, current and former roommates, and people holding other certain specific associations can apply for an ERPO in Washington against a gun-owning individual considered to be an “extreme risk.”

According to Chapter 7.94 of the Washington legislature’s Revised Code of Washington (RCW) which lists the state’s permanent laws, the petitioner must include an “affidavit made under oath stating the specific statements, actions, or facts that give rise to a reasonable fear of future dangerous acts by the respondent.” ERPOs may be granted as an “immediate temporary order” or a full order.

Within Chapter 7.94 is RCW 7.94.050, related to temporary, or ex parte ERPOs:

A petitioner may request that an ex parte extreme risk protection order be issued before a hearing for an extreme risk protection order, without notice to the respondent, by including in the petition detailed allegations based on personal knowledge that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others in the near future by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

RCW 7.94.090 states that “Upon issuance of any extreme risk protection order under this chapter, including an ex parte extreme risk protection order, the court shall order the respondent to surrender to the local law enforcement agency all firearms in the respondent’s custody, control, or possession and any concealed pistol license issued under RCW 9.41.070.” A granted ERPO is valid for one year and can be renewed for one-year periods.

While this as been championed as a valuable tool for law enforcement, due process procedures come into question; under the provisions of an ex parte ERPO, the accused respondent will not have the opportunity to face their accuser or challenge the claim until after a temporary order is already issued. This effectively allows law enforcement take a person’s firearms first, with due process occurring after firearms are removed. 

While a court hearing typically scheduled two weeks following an order allows a respondent to challenge the ERPO request, the fact that a provision allows for gun confiscation without being arrested or charged with a crime led to concerns reportedly raised by 2nd Amendment advocates as well as civil liberties groups.

David Combs, a vocal opponent of this law when it was known as Initiative 1491, wrote:

I-1491 duplicates new laws and doesn’t provide a treatment model, while Washington State’s ‘Joel’s Law’ passed in 2015 already provides protection for individuals and those close to them by providing families a legal process for obtaining an involuntary treatment to a mental health facility when a person is determined to be a danger to themselves or others. An individual with a record of an involuntary treatment beyond 14 days loses the right to possess firearms indefinitely.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Trump Did Not Make It Easier for Severely Mentally Ill People To Buy Guns]

“We now have to go to someone’s house and knock on the door and say, ‘We’re from the government. Can we have your guns?’” Seattle Police Sergeant Eric Pisconski, head of the crisis response unit for the Seattle Police Department, told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “That can get very dangerous.”

“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,” said Pisconski.

According to a Seattle police statement released on March 2nd, the city became the first law enforcement agency in Washington to confiscate an individual’s firearm through an ERPO:

Over the last year, police had received multiple calls about the man’s escalating behavior. In one recent incident, staff at a restaurant near the man’s home called police and reported that the man was harassing them while carrying a holstered firearm. Police also seized a shotgun from the man in another incident.

In a KATU report, police claimed the volume of complaints about an individual led them to apply for an ERPO, including reports from neighbors claiming the man was “staring” at them through a window while open-carrying a holstered pistol.

“He was roaming the hallways with a .25 caliber automatic,” Tony Montana, who reportedly knows the man from the apartment complex where he resides, told KATU. “And 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.” KATU noted that other ERPOs “have been served and executed around the state, but Seattle police said they are the only agency so far to seize a gun because the owner refused to hand it over.”

“The 31-year-old man met officers outside of his apartment and was taken into custody for violating a previous order to turn over his firearms, the Seattle Police Department’s statement read. “Officers then entered the man’s apartment and recovered a .25 caliber handgun. Police are also working to obtain several other firearms owned by the man, which are currently in possession of a family member.”

“We attempted multiple times to get the individual to fulfill that order of turning over their firearms,” Pisconski said. “And he refused multiple times. We were forced, at that point, to take the next step in the ERPO law which is petitioning for a search warrant to go in and enter their home and remove the firearms from them.”

According to KOMO News, Washington is among five states that have a “red flag law” that allows seizure of weapons in circumstances in which a court is petitioned to do so. Rhode Island is considering similar legislation, and an analysis from Rhode Island ACLU has noted a number of concerns including “its impact on civil liberties, and the precedent it sets for the use of coercive measures against individuals not because they are alleged to have committed any crime, but because somebody believes they might, someday, commit one.”

Seattle City Council Unanimously Approves “Gun Violence Tax” on Firearms, Ammo

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously on Monday to levy what lawmakers are calling a “gun violence tax” on ammunition and firearms sales. Seattle, Wash. lawmakers also approved a bill that would penalize individuals who fail to report lost or stolen firearms with up to a $500 fine. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray reportedly supports both bills.

According to The Seattle Times, the measure, which was introduced by City Council President Tim Burgess, would apply a $25 tax on firearms sales, a 5 cents-per-round tax on most types of ammunition, and a 2 cents-per-round tax on ammunition at or below .22 caliber.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement on the tax proposal, “The unanimous Council vote on this ordinance demonstrates the commitment of this City and this community to lead on the ongoing national epidemic of gun violence. While action at the federal level and in many other jurisdictions remains gridlocked, we are moving ahead to address an issue so damaging to the young people of Seattle, especially young people of color.

KOMO-TV notes that city officials estimate that the tax will bring in between $300,000 to $500,000, which would be spent on gun safety and gun violence prevention programs. Lawmakers plan to implement the program on January 1, 2016.

However, Washington state law bans municipalities from regulating firearms, and gun rights groups are expected to sue to block the legislation. A Seattle law banning guns in parks was overturned in 2010 after pro-gun organizations filed suit. Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has argued that the tax is authorized under the city’s taxing authority.

Second Amendment Foundation co-founder Alan Gottlieb called the proposal “dead on arrival” and said, “The courts aren’t going to buy it. This is not authorized by state law, and therefore it’s not going to hold up.

Some gun shop owners believe the tax is a covert attempt at driving them out of the city. Sergey Solyanik, who owns the Seattle-area gun shop Precise Shooter, said, “I would have almost no margins, so I would pass the tax on to my customers and most people would simply not buy from me. They would go to any of the stores around Seattle — there are a large number — and I would have to close.” He also pointed out the facts that guns and ammunition would still be available tax-free just outside of the city and that city officials’ tax revenue estimates are not factoring in the possibility that buyers will shift their purchases away from stores within city limits to evade the tax.

City Council President Tim Burgess said that he has been inundated with emails about the proposal. “The reaction has been mixed. We’re getting a ton of emails arriving from outside Seattle and across the country in opposition. But we’re getting emails of support, as well,” he said.

Pizza Shop Announces Impending Closure Due to Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Hike

Seattle, WA- “People like me are finding themselves in a tougher situation than ever,” said Seattle pizza shop employee Devin Jeran in comments to Q13 FOX News. Earlier this month, Jeran was the recipient of a raise, as Seattle’s mandated minimum wage hike began to kick in, forcing large businesses with more than 500 employees and small business franchises to first begin paying employees $11 per hour starting this month before being required to raise wages to $15 per hour by 2017. Small businesses without franchise relationships are allowed to wait until 2021 to raise their wages to $15 per hour.

Though Jeran will receive a bigger paycheck until August, his paychecks will stop for good after that, as the small business Z Pizza franchise at which he works is set to close under pressure from the new minimum wage law. The franchise’s owner, Ritu Shah Burnham, described the efforts she’s already taken to adapt to the phased increase to the new $11 minimum hourly wage, “I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself.” However, the fact that her 12-employee business has a franchise relationship with Z Pizza means that, under the new minimum wage law, she is required to retool her business such that it can stay open while paying employees $15 per hour within just 2 years, rather than being able to wait until 2021 like other small businesses, a feat Burnham says she can not manage. “I know that I would have stayed here if I had 7 years, just like everyone else, if I had an even playing field. The discrimination I’m feeling right now against my small business makes me not want to stay and do anything in Seattle,” she said.

Earlier this year, International Franchise Association representative Matthew Haller spoke out against the discriminatory nature of Seattle’s new minimum wage law in terms of how it affects small business franchises and said in comments to CNBC, “Franchisees are often small and local, and face the same challenges that other small businesses face. The franchise system is still a network of small businesses that will face irreparable harm due to these extra costs.”

Burnham told Q13 FOX News that she worries about what her employees will do after her business closes, “I absolutely am terrified for them. I have no idea where they’re going to find jobs, because if I’m cutting hours, I imagine everyone is across the board.”

Lone shooter in Washington school shooting is reportedly dead

A shooting at a high school near Seattle early Friday morning has resulted in the death of the shooter, according to Washington state police.

The shooting happened at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, which is in Marysville, a residential area to the north of Seattle.

Marysville Police Commander Rob Lamourex said the shooter was a student who attended Marysville-Pilchuck.

According to the Seattle Times, the shooter turned them gun on himself, resulting in his death.  One other student was reportedly killed during the shooting.

At least five others were injured, including two other students, and one of those injured reportedly is suffering from a head wound.  How serious these injuries are, and whether any of them are life-threatening, has not been disclosed as of yet.

One student, whose name has been withheld, told CNN when the shooting started, students initially thought the noise signaled a fire drill.  This student said when they realized the sounds were gun shoots, they hid in a nearby classroom with other students, all of whom were unharmed.

After police arrived on the scene, they began to evacuate the students and staff safely out of the school and transport them to a nearby church.  Parents were at the church to meet with their children and others.

Heather Parker, who is a mother of a Marysville-Pilchuck senior, said, “I never thought I would be standing here after a school shooting.”

Jery Holston is the father of two students at the school, told reporters, “As a father, this has been my fear since my kids have been in school, that something like this would happen.”

$20 Minimum Wage Endorsing Socialist Group Posts $13-Per-Hour Job Listing

The website of Seattle’s Freedom Socialist Party lists its most recent presidential candidate Stephen Durham’s political positions, which include the party’s effort to “raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour.” The group also avidly supported a successful push for a $15-per-hour minimum wage in Seattle, which passed this year. However, as Zenon Evans at Reason pointed out, that same political party just got caught posting a $13-per-hour job listing seeking a web content manager with web development skills.

Opponents of increases to the minimum wage often cite unintended consequences like price inflation, the elimination of jobs for unskilled workers, and small businesses‘ inability to pay higher wages as reasons for opposing such measures. As a small non-profit, the Freedom Socialist Party would certainly be wise to limit its labor expenses to the extent possible considering the fact that it is competing with organizations like the Republican and Democratic parties that have exponentially bigger budgets.

However, the Freedom Socialist Party promised that its push for a $15-per-hour Seattle minimum wage would “leave no one behind.” The party’s article promoting Seattle’s minimum wage hike includes this choice quote, “The Seattle fight has moved from the streets to City Hall. In May, new Mayor Ed Murray, Democrat, announced his proposal for $15/hour — for some workers, after several years. Healthcare, tips, and other ‘compensation’ would be calculated into their ‘income.’ In short, Mayor Murray’s plan caters to big business… Concretely, Murray’s proposition affects 102,000 working people in Seattle.” In that quote, party activist Linda Averill effectively criticizes loopholes in Seattle’s minimum wage that allow some employers to get around it.

One such loophole allows small employers like the Freedom Socialist Party to wait seven years before fully implementing the $15 minimum wage. The City of Seattle’s posting on the new minimum wage law says, “Small employers (businesses with fewer than 500 employees) will reach a $15 an hour minimum wage in seven years. Also established is a temporary guaranteed minimum compensation responsibility of $15 an hour to be met within the first five years, which can be achived [sic] by combining employer-paid health care contributions, consumer-paid tips, and employer-paid wages.” Consequently, the Freedom Socialist Party is not technically violating the minimum wage law that it promoted, but is merely using a loophole that it criticized to leave its own future web content manager behind with regards to the $15-per-hour pay rate.

Reason points out the fact that web development, one of the skills required of the Freedom Socialist Party’s future employee, typically brings in around $62,500 per year according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics citation by US News and World Report, meaning that the chosen applicant will have to work at wages far below industry norms. Given the reality that small organizations and businesses do not have unlimited money and sometimes can not afford to raise wages to an arbitrary level, the Freedom Socialist Party’s example proves that its rhetoric about small businesses’ struggles with conforming to a minimum wage are not just a “phony concern,” an argument that party activist Linda Averill advanced in her article promoting Seattle’s $15 minimum wage hike. In fact, it is a very real concern for the Freedom Socialist Party itself.

The controversial job listings were posted on Craigslist and Indeed, and a screenshot of the Indeed posting can be seen below. One wonders how this future employee will feel when being asked to design graphics promoting a $20-per-hour minimum wage while working for $13 per hour.

Seattle Pacific University Student Tackles And Restrains Gunman During School Shooting

Seattle, WA- On Thursday afternoon, a man armed with a shotgun opened fire at Seattle Pacific University. The man walked into the Otto Miller Hall campus building at around 3:30 and quickly began shooting at several victims, wounding as many as 3 people and killing one.

As the gunman stopped to reload, Jon Meis, a student and building monitor, pepper sprayed the gunman before tackling him and pushing him to the ground. Other students rushed to Meis’ side and held the shooter down until police arrived. The police had initially sought more than one shooter, but they later reported that they were no longer searching for an additional suspect.

“There are a number of heroes in this,” Seattle assistant police chief Paul McDonagh said. “But for the great response by the people of Seattle Pacific, this incident might have been much more tragic.”

The shooter was identified as 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra, who is not a Seattle Pacific University student, according to McDonagh. Ybarra was arrested and booked at King County Jail for investigation of murder.

As is the case in many school shootings, the motive behind the shooting at Seattle Pacific is unclear. Zack McKinley, a friend of Ybarra, told the Seattle Times that the alleged shooter is “super happy and friendly. He’s an awesome guy, someone who would never let you down.”

According to McKinley, Ybarra had a well-rounded group of friends and recently had begun working long hours at a grocery store. “I’m really good at deciphering if someone’s got bad news or in trouble. I’m blown away by this,’’ said McKinley. “He called me yesterday and asked if I wanted to go fishing.”

Ybarra’s father, Ambrose Ybarra, is also bewildered by Thursday’s fatal incident. “We don’t know anything,’’ said Ambrose Ybarra. “We just hope he’s safe. I’m a family man. I just need to put my arms around my family now. We just need to sit down and talk.”

Students closest to Otto Miller Hall where Ybarra allegedly began shooting were the first to hear the gunshots.  “I heard a loud bang. At first I thought it was a chemistry project. My teacher thought that, too. Then I put my head to the door and I heard shouting. I decided, that was a gunshot, we need to lockdown,” said Blake Oliveira, a student who was in physics class when he realized what was going on.

Students across the university learned of the situation through a mass emergency text that read “Emergency! A campus lockdown has been initiated. This is not a drill.”

The area that surrounds Seattle Pacific University  is not known to be a high-crime location. Seattle police recorded 14 violent crimes in that area over the last four years.

“Today should have been a day of celebration at the end of the school year here at Seattle Pacific University. Instead, it’s a day of tragedy and of loss. Once again, the epidemic of gun violence has come to Seattle, an epidemic of gun violence that has haunted this nation,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

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Store Clerk Scares Away Armed Robbers: “My Gun Is Bigger Than Yours”

A store clerk in Seattle dodged a bullet (perhaps literally) when he told would-be robbers, “I have a bigger gun than you do!”

Two men wearing ski masks entered Morning Star Mini Mart in West Seattle around 10 pm on Saturday. They immediately walked up to the store’s owner, Robert Moore, and pointed a gun at him.

Moore said to the thief, “This is robbery.”

Suspecting the robber’s gun was fake, Moore told him, “I have a bigger gun than you do!” He proved it by pulling out his caliber revolver from under the store counter.


The robbers immediately ran out of the store and drove away in a white SUV.

Customer Rich Morris said, “It’s a good place and Robert’s so great to the locals and stuff like that. It’s just a shame when people get desperate like that.”

These robbers clearly picked the wrong store clerk to mess with.

At this time, Seattle police have made no arrests related to the incident and have no suspects.


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