Open carry guns at zoos and bus stops in Washington state? That could soon be banned
The Washington State Senate approved legislation Friday that creates new limits on the state's open carry laws for guns, aiming to add to the list of public settings where openly carrying firearms is prohibited.
The goal is to help families and children feel safe "without fear of intimidation by folks who may be parading around with their weapons, openly carrying," bill sponsor Sen. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle) said.
Senate Bill 5444 would make it illegal to openly carry a firearm at zoos, aquariums, bus stops, and public libraries. The bill doesn't address carrying concealed weapons in Washington, which requires a license.
The legislation passed along party lines in the state Senate and now heads to the House for consideration.
Critics, including state Sen. Keith Wagoner (R-Sedro Woolley), call SB5444 another infringement on gun rights.
"Whether or not it's a right that we exercise for ourselves, it's our duty in this chamber to uphold those rights," Wagoner said.
Meanwhile, in the House, lawmakers passed another bill amending rules surrounding lost or stolen firearms. HB1903, passed on Friday, mandates that a gun owner who does not report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovering it missing could face a fine of up to $1,000. The offense would be classified as a civil infraction.
In recent years, Washington state has seen a trend of new, approved gun control measures, either through the legislature or voters. I-1639 was approved by voters in 2018 and defined the term "semiautomatic assault rifle." It also prohibited the sale of such firearms to people under the age of 21.
Lawmakers have banned the sale and manufacture of untraceable firearms, aka "ghost guns." In 2022, the state banned the sale of high capacity magazines (magazines that hold more than 10 rounds).
In 2023, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a suite of new gun laws passed by the legislature: a ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles and other high-capacity firearms; a new requirement for a 10-day waiting period for purchasing a gun; and a safety training requirement for gun buyers.
Section 24 of Washington state's constitution establishes residents' right to bear arms for defense of themselves or the state, and further declares that the right "shall not be impaired." However, it states that this right does not authorize people or corporations to organize armed groups of people.