O’Ban’s request for task force to prevent mass shootings included in budget

Sen. Steve O’Ban’s request to create a first-ever task force to develop strategies for identifying and intervening against potential perpetrators of mass shootings was approved by the Legislature this session.

In Florida, there was more than enough evidence provided to law enforcement, mental health professionals, school officials and others that the perpetrator owned a firearm and was a grave threat, yet no action was taken.

O’Ban’s task force will look at ways to educate the public about the availability of extreme risk protection orders, which allow family members and law enforcement to seek court intervention to remove firearms from violent individuals.

The task force will also 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.

The task force, to be convened by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, will develop strategies for identifying and intervening against potential perpetrators of mass shootings, emphasize school safety and report on recommendations to prevent these tragedies.

“We cannot keep wringing our hands and do nothing to stop mentally ill perpetrators of mass violence,” said O’Ban, R-University Place. “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.”

Members of the task force would include representatives from institutions of higher learning, a school safety center advisory committee, the Attorney General’s Office, local law enforcement, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Washington State Patrol, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and victims of mass shootings.