Advocates: Keep NRA out of Washington sex assault protections bill

Two advocates hoping to pass a bill next year in Washington that would grant protections for sex assault victims are speaking out, telling the NRA to keep its politics out of it in a column published Sunday in the Seattle Times.

Mary Ellen Stone is the executive director for a sex assault resource center in Washington, and Dan Satterberg is the King County Prosecuting Attorney. The pair are fighting to get equal protection for sex assault victims in Washington. Current law allows a judge to issue protection orders of any time period that protects victims in instances of domestic violence, stalking or harassment. But sexual assault protection orders have to be renewed every two years.

These orders sometimes include a suspension of firearms rights, and the NRA has opposed previous versions of the bill in Washington’s House of Representatives, effectively blocking the law from passage the last two sessions.

Stone and Satterberg say the question before lawmakers is simple: “Why should victims of sexual assault receive less protection than victims of domestic violence, stalking or harassment?”

The pair say they’re perplexed by the NRA’s opposition, mostly because the NRA helped negotiate a 2014 bill on firearms rights and protection orders – a bill that passed – and the new bill doesn’t amend those processes. Also, no one loses their firearms rights permanently under the protection orders. The judge sets a timeframe and the respondent can petition.

“The issue before the House and Senate next year is very simple: Why do we have less compassion and respect for the victims of sexual assault than we have for other victims?” ask Stone and Satterberg.