Board approves firearm surrender in DV situations

King County is improving the way it complies with a law that protects domestic violence survivors.

SEATTLE - King County is where Melissa Batten turned when her estranged husband terrified her. In 2008, she had been living in Redmond and working for Microsoft when she learned he had purchased a gun. She obtained a protection order from King County District Court. But more than a week later, he fatally shot her.

Barbara Langdon has seen it too many times.

"We have had many of our clients who have been killed by their batterers and it is an extreme concern," said Langdon, the Executive Director of LifeWire. The organization provides domestic violence services and programs.

Langdon had big hopes for House Bill 1840. Governor Inslee signed it in 2014, requiring domestic violence perpetrators, with protection orders against them, to temporarily surrender their guns.

But in King County, a recent three month review of the law found out of 94 cases where people who should have surrendered weapons, only 12 complied.

"It is not being implemented, and I think the question is why," said Langdon.

Prosecutor Dan Satterberg went before the Seattle-King County Board of Health Thursday afternoon.

"We are making a sacred promise to the victims in these cases that we are going to help you, and we can't fail at that," said Satterberg.

The session ended with unanimous approval. The Board plans to improve the way it complies with the law.

Sally Bagshaw, the Vice Chair of the Board of Health, said they are now seeking funds to hire a Program Coordinator to create unified protocols and processes for temporary removal of firearms in domestic violence situations.

LifeWire's 24-hour help line is 1-800-827-8840. 

 


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