We’ve received a lot of questions concerning firearm storage and Initiative 1639. While it’s always a topic we’re asked about, there has been increased interest in what this means for gun owners, following the tragic school shooting in Michigan and subsequent involuntary manslaughter charges being brought against the suspect’s parents.
This post is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact your lawyer for any specific legal concerns. All references are linked for your additional research. The following insight is what we have observed and researched ourselves concerning the regal responsibility to properly store your firearm.
What is Washington State’s Secure Gun Storage Law?
In July of 2019, Washington state passed RCW 9.41.360 (aka Initiative 1639 or the WA Child Access Prevention Law). The law makes any gun owner within Washington State legally responsible for keeping their firearm out of the possession of prohibited individuals.
Prohibited individuals include:
If a prohibited individual accesses an improperly stored firearm, the firearm owner could be charged with:
- Community Endangerment in the First Degree is a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Community Endangerment in the Second Degree is a Gross Misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Could You Be Charged in WA with Involuntary Manslaughter for an Improperly Stored Firearm?
As of the publishing of this post, Washington State has not charged a gun owner with manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter due to an improperly stored firearm. The Michigan case against James and Jennifer Crumbley presents a concern of precedent. But this is yet to be determined.
Under RCW 9.41.360 Are You Required to Keep Your Firearm in Secure Storage?
Per Washington State’s 1639 FAQ Page:
No. The new law doesn’t directly require that a firearm be stored in a particular place or in a particular way.
But if your firearm is not in secure storage, and you knew or reasonably should have known that the firearm could be accessed by someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm, such as a child, under some circumstances you may be charged with a crime.
It is also worth noting that Washington State’s FAQ Page says the safe storage requirements are not violated under the following circumstances:
- If the firearm was in secure gun storage or was secured with a trigger lock or similar device; or
- If the person is ineligible to possess because of age but the access is with parental permission and under adult supervision; or
- In cases of self-defense; or
- If the person who is ineligible to possess the firearm:
- Obtains it through unlawful entry, and
- The unauthorized access or theft is reported to law enforcement within five days of the time the owner knew or should have known that the firearm had been taken.
What Constitutes “Unsafe Storage of a Firearm” in Washington?
Per RCW 9.41.360, unsafe storage is classified as leaving a “firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm.”
What Does Washington State Consider Secure Firearm Storage?
Section 3.a of RCW 9.41.360 specifically mentions the following as secure solutions:
- Secure Gun Storage
- Trigger Lock (or similar device that is designed to prevent the unauthorized use or discharge of the firearm)
What’s the Best Secure Firearm Storage to Meet WA State’s ‘Secure Storage’ Regulations?
We’re in the business of selling gun safes. That’s no secret. But we’re also everyday ladies and gents who don’t believe in blowing smoke up your who-ha.
Per Washington’s State’s 1639 FAQ Page, secure gun storage is defined as:
A locked box, gun safe, or other secure locked storage space that is designed to prevent unauthorized use or discharge of a firearm; and The act of keeping an unloaded firearm stored by such means.
But here’s the rub of the whole thing. The law itself reads, “or reasonably should know” (Section 1 of RCW 9.41.360). This phrase provides a level of ambiguity and makes room for interpretation. What’s reasonable to some may not be reasonable to others.
That being said, if your firearms are stored within a locked gun safe — to which prohibited individuals do not have the combination — all evidence suggests this would meet the legal expectations.
7 of the Top Home Gun Safes
This list only scratches the surface. Peruse our website, visit our showroom in Enumclaw or give us a ring to discuss all your options.
With a 40-minute fire rating and a storage capacity of up to 24 guns, Liberty’s Centurion 24 SMU is one of the best starter safes available.
A budget-friendly mega safe (it’s a whopping 72.5-inches tall), Liberty’s Colonial 50 can hold up to 64 long guns. It comes equipped with a flexible interior and has earned a 75-minute fire rating.
Slightly smaller than the biggest Colonial, the Liberty USA 48 stands 60.5-inches tall. It can hold up to 48 long guns and can be purchased with a dial lock or electronic lock.
Often used as a closet safe, thanks to its minimal footprint, the Liberty’s Centurion 12 has a 30-minute fire rating and can hold up to 12 long guns.
Built with 12-gauge steel and 8 locking bolts, Liberty’s Fatboy Jr. Extreme has a flexible interior for multiple storage options. Plus, it has a 75-minute fire rating.
A slim rifle safe for the tech lover, Vaultek’s RS500i features both an electronic backlit keypad and a biometric fingerprint scanner. It comes Wi-fi enabled, allowing for remote monitoring. Plus, the modular interior can be configured based on your needs.