In late May, the Seattle Police Department knocked in the door at Brian Smith’s house and did exactly what many Second Amendment advocates say is their worst fear: they came for his guns.
They were able to do that because of a relatively new Washington State law that allows the government to seize firearms from a person who has been deemed to be a danger to himself or others — even if he is otherwise legally able to own guns. It’s called an extreme risk protection order, or ERPO, and it’s quickly becoming one of the only pieces of gun-control legislation to make it through state legislatures. Earlier this month, Illinois became the 13th state to sign one into law.
In Washington, Second Amendment advocates have so far been relatively quiet about the law. The Seattle Police have seized guns from two dozen people under the legislation so far, and advocates say they are mostly watching to see how the process actually works.
Instead, the strongest notes of concern have come from an unlikely corner: the ACLU, which worries the law will disproportionally affect minorities and the poor, and mental health advocates, who say they worry the law could be used to seize guns from people who are seen as a danger only because of their mental conditions.
In the case of Brian Smith, he has been found to exhibit signs of with alcoholism and delusional disorder. But the police insist their case is based on more than just that. (Smith refutes the mental health evaluation, which came in the form of a court assessment during a separate criminal case.) They first came in contact with him after a neighbor reported that he was recklessly playing with a loaded handgun in his backyard while drinking, and say they have documented other incidents of unsafe behavior. The police eventually seized eight firearms from him.
VICE News was there when they went to court to argue that the ERPO should be extended for the full year, and visited with Smith in his home, to find out what it felt like to be on the receiving end of modern-day gun seizure.
Subscribe to VICE News here: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News
Check out VICE News for more: http://vicenews.com
Follow VICE News here:
More videos from the VICE network: https://www.fb.com/vicevideo
More info on Seattle Police Are Taking Guns From Potentially Dangerous People (HBO)
Law & Justice
Seattle police recruits are participating in a first-of-its-kind, 45-day training program to acquaint them with the communities they will one day serve. A jury has awarded a 2020 protester more ...
Neighbors worry gun violence rising near University of Washington
Four University of Washington students are recovering from gunshot wounds after Seattle Police say a fight outside a bar escalated beyond fisticuffs.
WATCH: Seattle Police Face ‘Violent Crowd’ After CHOP Shooting
Protesters should, “Put your guns down ... According to The Seattle Times, they won’t go into CHOP with police accompanying them. Medics refused to help even after people in the CHOP ...
Is Seattle Police Department ready to embrace alternative responses to a gun and a badge?
When it comes to alternative responses to police calls, Seattle's police officers' union may have something to say about that looks like.
Seattle mayor appoints Adrian Diaz as city’s police chief
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell has named Adrian Diaz as the city’s new police chief. Harrell on Tuesday announced his intent to appoint Diaz, who has served as interim police chief since September ...
Everett man who stole gun from Seattle police vehicle during George Floyd protests pleads guilty
Little taking the gun from an SPD vehicle parked outside the downtown Seattle Nordstrom store. Using surveillance images, photos from the protests and tips from the public, Seattle police were able ..
Seattle police chief candidates explain why they're best for the job
SEATTLE — Two years after Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best stepped down from her role, the city has narrowed down applicants to three candidates who want to take ... of firearms, and if they ...
Seattle police officers injured in fire, barricade incident leaving one victim and suspect dead
Seattle police say a man and a woman were found dead in a burning home following a domestic incident that officers were responding to Wednesday morning. Police received a call from a home in ...