Supporters say WA bill would keep guns out of the hands of menta - KPTV - FOX 12

Supporters say WA bill would keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill or violent people

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VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) -

Washington state leaders and people touched by gun violence are pushing a ballot measure that could stop violent and mentally ill people from getting firearms.

Supporters of the bill held a small rally in the Five Corners neighborhood of Vancouver Thursday, where a mother was shot and killed just a couple months ago. 

The woman’s family said they think she may still be alive if Initiative 1491 had been in effect, and another local mom is convinced her daughter would be alive as well.

Marilyn Balcerak told police in early 2015 that her son James was depressed and suicidal. She wanted help and to somehow stop him from getting a gun.

“I even referenced the Santa Barbara shooting and said, ‘That sounds like my son,’” she said. “They just kind of go, ‘I understand your situation, but unless he commits a crime, there’s nothing we can do about it.’”

By June, Balcerak’s son had bought a gun in Auburn and killed his stepsister Brianna and himself.

Balcerak said she wishes she’d been able to get an extreme risk protection order.

“Then he would not have been able to get that gun at Fred Meyer, and I’m sure at least my daughter would be alive today,” she said.

That tragedy is why Balcerak is campaigning for Initiative 1491. The measure would allow family members and law enforcement to ask judges for a protection order barring mentally ill or violent people from having or buying guns.

Vancouver mayor Tim Leavitt said such a law may have helped Amanda Marjama. Her husband Todd had a history of abuse and making threats, and he is now charged with killing her in June.

Leavitt said he is frustrated by what little can be done by individual cities to address the issue.

“At the local level, in our cities and counties, unfortunately the options for rule changes are limited on this matter,” he said. “However, I am still dedicated to exploring what the city of Vancouver can and may do to pitch in on this fight.”

Officials say more people in Washington die from gun violence every year than car accidents, though Balcerak said she never thought her children would be two of those victims.

Initiative 1491 will be on the Washington ballot in November.

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