Initiative launched that would allow family, police to request guns be taken from mentally ill

SEATTLE -- There's a new movement to keep guns away from those who are mentally ill.

Gun control supporters tried to get lawmakers to pass it, that failed  so now they want the issue on the ballot this November.

The initiative is called the Extreme Risk Protection Order.

Two families are living through the pain of losing their children.

“She started hallucinating, schizophrenic, she was able to purchase a gun,”  Zoeann Moore said.

Moore’s daughter, Dana Harvey, killed herself with that gun.

Marilyn Balcerak says her son, James Balcerak, also mentally ill, murdered his stepsister, Brianna Smith, and then shot himself in Auburn last year.

“He should have never been able to buy a gun; I knew James better than anyone,” Balcerak said.

She says she didn’t have a way then to quickly prevent her son from getting a gun so Balcerak is fighting for that right for other families.

In what looked more like a campaign night than a press conference, Alliance for Gun Responsibility launched its petition drive on Thursday to get the extreme risk protection order on the November ballot.

The group wants to give family members and law enforcement the right to ask a judge to take away the gun of a person who is struggling with mental illness.

“Policing goes well beyond law enforcement, it’s prevention and intervention,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’ Toole said.

If a judge deems someone is unstable, that person will be stripped of their gun immediately for 14 days.

If the petitioner can prove there is further danger, the judge can take the gun away for an entire year.

“It’s almost like your guilty until proven innocent,” said opponent Dave Workman, with the Second Amendment Foundation.

The Second Amendment Foundation says the extreme risk protection order is a violation of civil rights.

“It’s a piece of thin ice here. We don’t know where the line is going to be drawn. You can’t open the door to false accusations,” Workman said.

“We also made sure there are severe penalties for false petitioners,” Stephanie Ervin said.

The Alliance for Gun Responsibility says they are expecting a fight from gun lobbyists.

“We do know the gun lobby’s consistent tactic is fear-mongering and confusion,” Ervin said.

As the battle fires up, this grieving mother says she doesn’t care about the politics.

“Please put your feet in my shoes -- look at the mothers, look at your own children,” Moore said.

Alliance for Gun Responsibility filed their petition order with the Secretary of State Thursday afternoon.

They will have until July to get nearly 250,000 valid voter signatures in order for the issue to make the ballot.