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unsecured firearm law introduced in Olympia
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Unsecured firearm law would hold gun owners accountable

Senator Guy Palumbo argues that tragic shootings could be further avoided if gun owners are held responsible if their weapons get into the wrong hands. (AP)

The deadly shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. The mass shooting at the Cascade Mall. The accidental shooting of an 8-year-old Bremerton girl at the hands of her 9-year-old classmate.

All of these tragedies were the result of people getting their hands on an unsecured firearm.

Report: Any way you look at it, number of mass shooting rose in 2016

But Washington state doesn’t have a law to punish gun owners whose weapons get in the hands of the wrong people.

Democratic state Senator Guy Palumbo is trying to change that. Palumbo introduced a bill that would make unsafe storage of a gun a crime.

“It’s basically to keep the guns we do have out of the hands of dangerous people,” he said.

As the bill is currently written, a gun owner would either get a misdemeanor or felony — depending on how the gun was used — if their unsecured firearm was used illegally by someone.

“You can never guarantee those wouldn’t happen — those tragedies — but certainly in those cases, this all would have had ramifications for the people’s whose guns were used in those tragedies.”

Palumbo, a gun owner himself, says it is just “common sense” to lock up firearms.

“I’m a gun owner, but it’s unfair to keep them unlocked,” he said.

He admits he is not sure how well the bill will do.

“It will be interesting to see if we get a hearing on it or if it passes or gets to the floor, but we’re going to keep fighting for things like this…”

A companion bill is being introduced in the House. The measures were inspired by successful policies in more than two dozen other states. The legislation would also require firearms dealers to offer gun buyers a lock box or gun lock at the time of sale, as well as post signs about the new law.

“This bill is about accountability,” Palumbo said. “So many of the tragic shootings we have seen lately could have been prevented if the gun owner had simply taken the time to store the weapon properly. As a result of this legislation, I hope we’ll start seeing more news reports about people fulfilling their potential and less about lives being cut short.”

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