If a state or government agency issues a firearm to an employee, it must ensure that the employee is issued a reliable safety device or safe in which to store it.
That is the goal of Senate Bill 5697, a measure sponsored by Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam. Hargrove says the purpose of the bill is not to enforce use of safety devices but to ensure the reliability of any that are used.
“There are a lot of ways to keep guns and ammunition safe and secure without using a gun lock or safe,” said Hargrove. “However, if people are going to rely on a safety device to keep their guns or ammunition safe and secure, they should be able to rely on it to work properly.”
"I believe this is a good approach to this issue,” said Donald G. Pierce, legislative director for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. “If gun safes are issued, the officers and their families will now know that the safes have met safety standards."
Washington is not the first state to consider such a measure. In California, a similar requirement has been adopted by the state Department of Justice and will provide a key portion of the Washington measure. SB 5697 would adopt a roster of firearms safety devices and gun safes approved for use by California government agencies. That roster would the basis of a list of approved safes and safety devices for Washington government agencies to distribute to agents who request them.
“This isn’t ordering the use of the safety devices. There will be no requirement that the agents use the safe or safety devices to store their government-issue firearms,” said Hargrove. “But if they do use them, the devices must appear on that roster.”
In addition, the bill will provide some protection for the state and its personnel. If an agent issued a firearm uses a state-approved safety device or safe and an accident occurs, the agency or agent would not be responsible for civil damages.
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For more information: Ian Cope, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7535
For interviews: Sen. Jim Hargrove, 360-786-7646