Seattle Police Are Taking Guns From Potentially Dangerous People (HBO)

In late May, the Seattle Police Department knocked in the door at Brian Smith’s house and did exactly what many Second Amendment advocates say is their worst fear: they came for his guns.

They were able to do that because of a relatively new Washington State law that allows the government to seize firearms from a person who has been deemed to be a danger to himself or others — even if he is otherwise legally able to own guns. It’s called an extreme risk protection order, or ERPO, and it’s quickly becoming one of the only pieces of gun-control legislation to make it through state legislatures. Earlier this month, Illinois became the 13th state to sign one into law.

In Washington, Second Amendment advocates have so far been relatively quiet about the law. The Seattle Police have seized guns from two dozen people under the legislation so far, and advocates say they are mostly watching to see how the process actually works.

Instead, the strongest notes of concern have come from an unlikely corner: the ACLU, which worries the law will disproportionally affect minorities and the poor, and mental health advocates, who say they worry the law could be used to seize guns from people who are seen as a danger only because of their mental conditions.

In the case of Brian Smith, he has been found to exhibit signs of with alcoholism and delusional disorder. But the police insist their case is based on more than just that. (Smith refutes the mental health evaluation, which came in the form of a court assessment during a separate criminal case.) They first came in contact with him after a neighbor reported that he was recklessly playing with a loaded handgun in his backyard while drinking, and say they have documented other incidents of unsafe behavior. The police eventually seized eight firearms from him.

VICE News was there when they went to court to argue that the ERPO should be extended for the full year, and visited with Smith in his home, to find out what it felt like to be on the receiving end of modern-day gun seizure.

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ACLU: Trump Border Proposal Unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling a Trump proposal to send people caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border home without due process unconstitutional. (June 25)

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Amazon Urged to Halt Selling Facial Recognition

The ACLU and other groups urged Amazon to halt selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement departments. (May 29)

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ACLU: Trump Mistaken to Keep Gitmo Open

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday blasted President Donald Trump’s order to keep Guantanamo Bay open. (Jan. 31)

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Gun Control Advocates Are Hoping Ballot Initiatives Get More Done Than Congress (HBO)

On Election Day, a record four states will vote on gun initiatives. Gun control advocates haven’t had much luck getting legislation through Congress or state legislatures, so they’re turning to the initiative process in hopes letting the voter, not politicians, decide policy.

Among them is ballot initiative 1491 in Washington state that would allow family members or police to get a court order to prevent a person from getting a gun who might be a danger to themselves or to others.

Backing the initiative is Marilyn Balcerak, whose 23-year-old severely autistic son James purchased a gun at a local supermarket and murdered his stepsister Brianna Smith with it before taking his own life. Prior to the shootings, Balcerak had contacted police in to ask if there was anything she could do to prevent James from ever purchasing a weapon. They told her it wasn’t possible unless he committed a crime first.

Supporters have raised more than $4 million and have the backing of tech billionaires Steve Ballmer and Paul Allen, but the NRA is strongly opposed, and even the ACLU has concerns that the initiative could infringe on due process for gun owners. Balcerak just hopes it saves lives.

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Hawaii’s Homeless & Somalia Drought: VICE News Tonight Full Episode (HBO)

Watch the full episode of VICE News Tonight on HBO from March 30, 2017.

We take a closer look at North Carolina’s bathroom bill repeal to see if the new agreement is actually an improvement for civil rights. The ACLU has brought on a new political director who hopes to change the image of the advocacy group. We follow him as he hosts a town hall in Florida on resistance training.

Gianna Toboni travels to drought-stricken Somalia where thousands are fleeing their homes in search of food and water. Plus, a look at homelessness in Hawaii, and a radical new approach to dealing with the crisis.

Read: “Amnesty warns that ‘poisonous rhetoric’ endangers human rights around the world” – http://bit.ly/2ovcpAo

Read: “North Carolina’s bathroom repeal would also forbid LGBTQ legal protections” – http://bit.ly/2o2bVPm

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