9.41.352  <<  9.41.360 >>   9.41.365

Unsafe storage of a firearm. (Effective July 1, 2019.)

(1) A person who stores or leaves a firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm:
(a) Is guilty of community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm in the first degree if a prohibited person obtains access and possession of the firearm and causes personal injury or death with the firearm; or
(b) Is guilty of community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm in the second degree if a prohibited person obtains access and possession of the firearm and:
(i) Causes the firearm to discharge;
(ii) Carries, exhibits, or displays the firearm in a public place in a manner that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons; or
(iii) Uses the firearm in the commission of a crime.
(2)(a) Community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm in the first degree is a class C felony punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(b) Community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor punishable according to chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply if:
(a) The firearm was in secure gun storage, or secured with a trigger lock or similar device that is designed to prevent the unauthorized use or discharge of the firearm;
(b) In the case of a person who is a prohibited person on the basis of the person's age, access to the firearm is with the lawful permission of the prohibited person's parent or guardian and supervised by an adult, or is in accordance with RCW 9.41.042;
(c) The prohibited person obtains, or obtains and discharges, the firearm in a lawful act of self-defense; or
(d) The prohibited person's access to the firearm was obtained as a result of an unlawful entry, provided that the unauthorized access or theft of the firearm is reported to a local law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction in which the unauthorized access or theft occurred within five days of the time the victim of the unlawful entry knew or reasonably should have known that the firearm had been taken.
(4) If a death or serious injury occurs as a result of an alleged violation of subsection (1)(a) of this section, the prosecuting attorney may decline to prosecute, even though technically sufficient evidence to prosecute exists, in situations where prosecution would serve no public purpose or would defeat the purpose of the law in question.
(5) For the purposes of this section, "prohibited person" means a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law.
(6) Nothing in this section mandates how or where a firearm must be stored.
[2019 c 3 § 5 (Initiative Measure No. 1639, approved November 6, 2018).]

NOTES:

Finding2019 c 3 (Initiative Measure No. 1639): "Gun violence is far too common in Washington and the United States. In particular, shootings involving the use of semiautomatic assault rifles have resulted in hundreds of lives lost, devastating injuries, and lasting psychological impacts on survivors, their families, and communities. Semiautomatic assault rifles are specifically designed to kill quickly and efficiently and have been used in some of the country's deadliest mass shootings, including in Newtown, Connecticut; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Parkland and Orlando, Florida, among others. Semiautomatic assault rifles have also been used in deadly shootings in Washington, including in Mukilteo and Tacoma.
The impacts of gun violence by assault weapons fall heavily on children and teenagers. According to one analysis, more than two hundred eight thousand students attending at least two hundred twelve schools have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine mass shooting in 1999. Active shooter drills are normal for a generation of American schoolchildren, instilling at a young age the sad and unnecessary realization that a mass shooting can happen in any community, in any school, at any time.
Enough is enough. The people find and declare that it is crucial and urgent to pass laws to increase public safety and reduce gun violence.
Implementing an enhanced background check system for semiautomatic assault rifles that is as strong as the one required to purchase a handgun and requiring safety training and a waiting period will help ensure that we keep these weapons out of dangerous hands. Further, federal law prohibits the sale of pistols to individuals under the age of twenty-one and at least a dozen states further restrict the ownership or possession of firearms by individuals under the age of twenty-one. This makes sense, as studies show that eighteen to twenty year olds commit a disproportionate number of firearm homicides in the United States and research indicates that the brain does not fully mature until a later age. Raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic assault rifles to twenty-one is a commonsense step the people wish to take to increase public safety.
Finally, firearms taken from the home by children or other persons prohibited from possessing firearms have been at the heart of several tragic gun violence incidents. One study shows that over eighty-five percent of school shooters obtained the firearm at their home or from a friend or relative. Another study found that more than seventy-five percent of firearms used in youth suicide attempts and unintentional injuries were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative, or a friend. Secure gun storage requirements for all firearms will increase public safety by helping ensure that children and other prohibited persons do not inappropriately gain access to firearms, and notice requirements will make the potential dangers of firearms clear to purchasers.
Therefore, to increase public safety for all Washingtonians, in particular our children, this measure would, among other things: Create an enhanced background check system applicable to semiautomatic assault rifles similar to what is required for handguns, require that individuals complete a firearm safety training course and be at least twenty-one years of age to purchase or possess such weapons, enact a waiting period for the purchase of such weapons, and establish standards for the responsible storage of all firearms." [2019 c 3 § 1 (Initiative Measure No. 1639, approved November 6, 2018).]
Short title2019 c 3 (Initiative Measure No. 1639): "This act may be known and cited as the public safety and semiautomatic assault rifle act." [2019 c 3 § 2 (Initiative Measure No. 1639, approved November 6, 2018).]
Effective dates2019 c 3 (Initiative Measure No. 1639): "This act takes effect July 1, 2019, except for section 13 of this act which takes effect January 1, 2019." [2019 c 3 § 17 (Initiative Measure No. 1639, approved November 6, 2018).]
Implementation2019 c 3 (Initiative Measure No. 1639): "The director of the department of licensing may take the necessary steps to ensure that this act is implemented on its effective date." [2019 c 3 § 18 (Initiative Measure No. 1639, approved November 6, 2018).]
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