Firearm Surrender in Civil Protection Order Cases

The Washington State legislature contemplated the loss of firearms as a consequence of being the recipient of a civil protection order.  Under RCW 7.105.310 and RCW 9.41.800, the Courts are supposed to require the respondent who has received a domestic violence protection order to surrender their firearms and not be allowed to have any in their possession.  A Judge is similarly supposed to order this in anti-harassment and stalking cases if it is determined the respondent has used, displayed, or threatened to use a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a felony or more notably, may enter an order to surrender firearms if they determine the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon by any party presents a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety, or to the health or safety of any individual.  Despite these rules, many Judges in Washington State have not been ordering firearm surrenders due to a recent Washington State Court of Appeals case State of Washington v. Flannery from which they interpret it as concluding an order to surrender firearms is unconstitutional under the circumstances.  For example, our office has seen Clark, Pierce, and Cowlitz County not ordering the surrender of firearms.  However, King County still is ordering the surrender, along with a requirement to appear at a firearm compliance hearing.  In response to this, the Washington State Legislature has enacted House Bill 1715-2023-24 in an attempt to fix what the Court of Appeals deemed unconditional.  It is unclear at this time if the Courts will change their view in light of the new legislation but ultimately, it may become moot depending on what the US Supreme Court says.  The Supreme Court will be soon considering United States v. Rahimi, which is a 5th circuit case that determined a law barring domestic violence abusers from keeping guns unconstitutionally violated their right to bear arms.  Washington State is in the 9th circuit so that ruling does not apply here unless the Supreme Court agrees with the 5th circuit.