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O’Ban requests task force to prevent mass shootings

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, has requested a proviso to the 2018 supplemental operating budget for funding to create a legislative task force to prevent mass shootings.

The task force would develop strategies for identifying and intervening against potential perpetrators of mass shootings, educate the public about the availability of extreme risk protection orders, and report on recommendations to prevent these tragedies

As ranking member of the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee, O’Ban hopes the task force will pay special attention to mental health issues, which are the common link to most of the recent mass shootings, school safety, and strategies used in other states to identify and intervene in time to avert mass shootings.

“We cannot keep wringing our hands and do nothing to stop mentally ill perpetrators of mass violence,” O’Ban said. “The horrific Parkland, Florida massacre is typical of many before it; students, school officials, family members, neighbors, social media users, law enforcement and even mental health professionals knew the perpetrator was mentally unstable, a high risk, and owned a firearm. We need to gather smart people in a room, develop a plan to identify potential perpetrators, and prevent as many of these senseless killings as possible.”

In the budget request, members of the task force would include representatives from the state Senate and House of Representatives, institutions of higher learning, prosecuting and criminal defense attorneys, the Attorney General’s office, Washington Association of Counties, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Washington State Patrol, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and family members of victims of mass shootings.