Deborah Fabos 5:29pm Jan 14

This is from the local newspaper my letter will be published in on Thursday.

Mental health intervention course slated | | The Acorn
A free two-day course is being offered this month to help residents better understand mental health .

From the post above, one would believe that Washington is in the fore, on the good guys list.  However the source who sent this set of documents to me noted: ” … WA has not qualified for a significant grant that has been awarded to other states for increased reporting of mental health verdicts/commitments to NICS.”  And from the fine print below it seems Washington is not as “good guy” as the above indicates.

Is this State a good guy?  I just don’t know.  What I know is that I didn’t know anything about this back before May 30th.  What I know is that many many others STILL DO NOT KNOW.

My work is to let them know.  And then to assist our  knowledge drive action.

However, Wherever, for the Duration!

backgroud at the link includes this excerpt for Washington, but all 50 get a summary.

Mental Health Reporting in Washington

Posted on Sunday, January 1st, 2012

See our Mental Health Reporting policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits possession of a firearm or ammunition by any person who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily “committed to any mental institution.”1 No federal law, however, requires states to report the identities of these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.

Washington requires that, at the time any person convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity for a crime that results in the prohibition of possession of a firearm2, or is committed by a court order for mental health treatment, the convicting or committing court must:

  • Notify the person, orally and in writing, that he or she must immediately surrender any concealed pistol license and may not possess a firearm unless his or her right to do so is restored by a court of record;
  • Within three days after conviction or entry of commitment order, forward a copy of the person’s driver’s license or identification card and the date of conviction or commitment to the state Department of Licensing; and
  • If the person is committed by court order under Washington Rev. Code Ann. §§ 71.05.240 (involuntary or alternative treatment for 14 days), 71.05.320 (treatment for an adult for 90 or 180 days), 71.34.740 (involuntary commitment hearing for a minor), 71.34.750 (treatment a minor for 180 days) or Chapter 10.77 (treatment when found not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial), the committing court shall forward a copy of the person’s driver’s license, or comparable information, along with date of commitment, to the NICS database.3

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) must, upon request of a court or law enforcement agency, supply such relevant information as is necessary to determine the person’s eligibility to possess or purchase a handgun or be issued a concealed pistol license.4

Information and records regarding involuntary commitments of the mentally ill may only be disclosed for specified purposes, including to law enforcement officers as necessary to enforce state law regarding the unlawful possession of firearms by specified persons.5 Only the fact, place and date of involuntary commitment, an official copy of any order or orders of commitment, and an official copy of any written or oral notice of ineligibility to possess a firearm shall be disclosed upon request.6 Identical provisions govern disclosure of involuntary commitments of minors.7

An application to purchase a handgun constitutes a waiver of confidentiality and a written request that the DSHS, mental health institutions, and other health care facilities release information relevant to the applicant’s eligibility to purchase a handgun to an inquiring court or law enforcement agency.8 Similarly, a signed application for a concealed pistol license constitutes a waiver of confidentiality and a written request that the DSHS, mental health institutions, and other health care facilities release information relevant to the applicant’s eligibility for a concealed pistol license to an inquiring court or law enforcement agency.9

Mental health information received by the following entities may not be disclosed except in limited instances:10

  • An authority that previously issued a concealed pistol license and receives information from the Department of Licensing that the person is no longer eligible pursuant to Washington Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.047;
  • A chief of police or sheriff performing a background check prior to transfer of a handgun;
  • A court or law enforcement agency to determine the person’s eligibility to possess a handgun or be issued a concealed pistol license or to purchase a handgun under state law.11

Dispositions are reported to the identification section of the Washington State Patrol.12 Dispositions include findings of not guilty by reason of insanity, and dismissals by reason of incompetency.13

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers or possessors, see the Washington Background Checks section and the section entitled Prohibited Purchasers Generally.

  1. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(4). []
  2. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040 and the Washington Prohibited Purchasers Generally section for these prohibited categories. []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.047(1). []
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.097(1). For information on concealed pistol licenses, see Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.070 and the Washington Concealed Weapons Permitting section. []
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 71.05.390(17). See also Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040. []
  6. Id. []
  7. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 71.34.340(16). []
  8. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.094. []
  9. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.070(4). An application for an alien firearm license also acts as a waiver of confidentiality and written request of this kind, with respect to the person’s eligibility for an alien firearm license. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.173(4). []
  10. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 42.56.240(4), which prohibits public disclosure except for concealed pistol license applications and related information only to law enforcement. []
  11. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.097(2). []
  12. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 10.97.045; see also Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 43.43.745(3). []
  13. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 10.97.030(4). []

These “opposed” groups have a common ground in the process of keeping certain classes from obtaining and possesing firearms.  They already agree about those not of age.  The already agree about those who have been in jails or prisons for certain crimes.  They actually already agree pretty well over denying those who are not competent, by reason of mental problems, to have firearms.  NCIS records are already set to add these cases to the national database of  “do not sell to” individuals.  The national database prevents purchase by buying in a different state, where local records do not have access to homestate records.  Also they prevent homestate purchases when the exclusionary events are recorded in other states.


All well and good until you look at how its working on the ground, and how some states just don’t care.  Funny to me that a 2 minute e-mail upon conclusion of a court finding can be the weak “rationale” for saying “lack of funding makes reporting….”  Oh really?

some sources and background in these links:

The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007


This first appeared in the Seattle Times after I was envited to respond to the”SandyHook” massacre.  I said I could not do another tear jerker, could not diffuse the issue begging for more gun laws.  I said there was only one place to start.  While I felt the article lost some threads with the staffs’ editorial constraints, it is my start. 

We’re in denial about the connection between mental illness and the shootings at the school in Newtown, Conn., the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and Cafe Racer in Seattle, writes guest columnist Walt Stawicki.  ……………………………………………………………….

LAST year more than 100 people were killed or wounded by rampaging assailants with reported mental-health issues. This does not include those who killed family members, who numbered 1,400 last year, or 13,000 suicides by the mentally ill. Those are not reported as rampage incidents.

Yet through all this we continue to hear that people with mental illness are no more violent than the general population.

That fact is at odds with the reality that families and intimates of those who finally become spree killers live with constantly. It is no help at all to those bearing the highly probable event coming today, tomorrow, next month, or next year. Most spree shooters do have mental illness, and they use firearms.

We’re in denial about the connection between mental illness and the shootings at the school in Newtown, Conn., the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and Cafe Racer in Seattle. These statistics suggest that half or two-thirds of spree shooters were often formally diagnosed, formerly hospitalized, or had shown rage, aggression, paranoia and/or delusional thinking.

If half to two-thirds does not suggest a pattern, what can? Would it be suggested by the extensive statements of family members who lived with the emergent dangers?

Most states base their interventions on imminent-danger laws, which give officers the right to detain someone who poses a danger at that moment. Only a few states like New York (Kendra’s Law, 1999), California (Laura’s Law, 2002) and Washington are trying to intervene at an earlier stage, under emergent-danger laws.

In most cases, families see something coming. Even though we may be afraid of what our loved ones may do, we have learned that the system is not going to help until it’s time for ambulances and body bags.

Tracking emerging dangers is supposed to change that. It allows tracking to begin with a referral from family or friends and is based on prior incidents, reported or not.

Emergent-danger laws are supposed to provide an opportunity for earlier intervention for people with a history of mental illness. It does. And it doesn’t.

It can’t work when no one knows about the process for intervention in emergent situations. I found out about the resources only a month or more after my son’s emergent issues became reality at Cafe Racer, Town Hall and a quiet West Seattle street. We had seen the person who was our beloved son and his hold on reality slipping away.

What we have in King County does not work now, because deputies have failed to mention it to families I’ve heard from, even though a goodly percentage have gone through the King County Sheriff’s crisis-response training. It doesn’t work when families are reluctant to call for police. Too many have had, or know of, what can go horribly wrong.

The emergent-danger law and opportunity for a family to work through a “designated mental-health professional” and make a case for court intervention exists, but to my knowledge has never been properly introduced and actively publicized to the people of Washington state. The program has appeared in the small print and passing notices.

We must let people know what is available with a message as simple as, “Is a mental-health disaster building in your family? Intervention can start NOW.” If you have a family member who you fear poses an emergent danger to him or herself or others, the clock is already running. Do not just wait and pray.

Please call the Crisis Clinic at 206-461-3222. If you think you just need information today, call the King County Crisis & Commitment Services office at 206-263-9200.

The first and simplest action to take is to put the information where it is readily seen. My proposal is that someone step up and fund signs on our buses and rent billboard space.

At the very least, police officers and sheriff deputies should carry printed cards they can leave with families who report domestic disturbances.

We must continue to advocate for changes in the procedures and push for lower intervention criteria by the state. We must ensure funding for follow-up treatment is available. This has already shown a track record for saving lives and, yes, even money in other states. We must advocate and legislate assisted outpatient treatment, which allows people with brain disorders to live in the community and requires them to comply with treatment. New York knows it works and saves both money and lives.

We must insist that the system change its focus to the most difficult and dangerous and even forgo the minimally debilitated. As D.J. Jaffe, founder of, says: “There are ways to know which mentally ill individuals become or are likely to become violent.“

We must act on that hope so the system works for those who live with the next spree killers. We must, if we are to prevent future shootings, if we are to help those future headline makers. We must, if we truly care for the ill and their own futures. We must, if we truly care for one another and our future.


Originally here, with comments from readers: