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Old July 7, 2014, 04:57 PM   #1
ohbythebay
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Storage of firearms in the home - WA

Are you required to have proof of safe storage of firearms in the home in WA State ? The reason I ask is a co-worker was telling me that if your guns are stolen and a crime committed with them, you could be liable if you cannot show they were adequately locked/stored, etc. - even if you had immediately reported them stolen

I don't believe that to be true but would like to hear from someone who KNOWS ...Thanks
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Old July 7, 2014, 06:00 PM   #2
RustyShackelford
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Gun laws....

I'd check these sources; www.nra.org www.handgunlaw.us www.gunlawguide.com www.floridafirearmslaw.com .
You might ask your local LE agency or DA's office. Some sheriff's offices(like mine) offer free gun locks/cases to gun owners to prevent mishaps-NDs.
Many gun firms will mail you a free security lock or device too.
I requested a lock & cleaning rod for my Glock 21 law enforcement trade-in. I got the items last week.

I added the Florida gun book guide because the author(who is a lawyer/2A expert) might have connections or sources in WA.
The only WA area(Seattle) legal expert I'm aware of is David Wong. He has a site too but I'm not aware of how to contact him. Try Facebook or maybe Linkedin.com .
Wong wrote a few articles on the LEOSA issue & gun/knife laws.
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Old July 7, 2014, 06:08 PM   #3
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No, does not mean they might try something anyway They did try to get a bill passed last year that included having to let a police officer in your home once a year to make sure. Did not go anywhere. Also does not mean you can leave a loaded weapon out for a kid to get and do harm. They have tried some for this.

Last edited by 2bfree; July 7, 2014 at 06:14 PM.
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Old July 7, 2014, 07:22 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
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Even in the absence of a specific law, and depending on the exact circumstances, I could conceive of liability being based on basic, Common Law, negligence. In appropriate circumstances, I could imagine a civil jury concluding that a gun owner didn't exercise the care of a reasonable and prudent person to prevent unauthorized access to his gun.

Of course without a statute it's hard to be definitive. As I said, it really all depends. So, for example --
  • If your gun is stolen out of your locked safe by someone who used significant force to break into your safe, you'll probably be okay.

  • If you left your gun on top of the coffee table, and it was lifted by a delivery person, you might have a problem.

  • If you left your gun on your work bench, unattended, in your garage open to and readily accessible from a busy sidewalk, and it was stolen from there, you're probably toast.
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Old July 7, 2014, 07:33 PM   #5
BSA1
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How many locks does a gun have to have for the owner to avoid legal trouble?

Fenced yard and gates locked?
Garage locked and power to door opener shut off?
Entry doors to home locked?
Windows locked?
Interior doors locked?
Gun safe locked?
Gun safe bolted in place?
Gun inside safe disassembled and locked?
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Old July 7, 2014, 07:46 PM   #6
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSA1
How many locks does a gun have to have for the owner to avoid legal trouble?
Enough that a jury is likely to be convinced that he exercised reasonable care. Not exercising the degree of care which would be exercised by a reasonable and prudent person in light of the foreseeable risk of harm is the foundation of liability based on negligence; and it's impossible to be any more definite.
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Old July 7, 2014, 11:58 PM   #7
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There was a State Initiative a few years back (I-695) that dealt with "safe storage". It was soundly defeated. So you have no legal requirement to lock up your guns. But as others pointed out, that doesn't always absolve you of all liability.

WA has state preemption over guns laws except for when/where you can discharge them. So if they make a safe storage law, it will be state wide and everyone should know.
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Old July 8, 2014, 02:38 AM   #8
joeschmoe
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In a word... no. Your coworker is wrong. There is no requirement to "show proof of safe storage" in WA. Ask him where that law is written down.
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Old July 8, 2014, 10:48 AM   #9
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These "safe storage" requirements worry me -- a lot. This is going to be a big item to be pushed by the gun controllers. There's no way that "safe storage" requirements can be enforced without random, warrantless inspections by the police. Random inspections are a gross violation of privacy. Beyond that, there's nothing to stop the police from noting and cataloging your guns during the course of the inspections. This is one more way to get "backdoor" registration.

Let's say you have a dozen long guns stored in a safe, and a handgun or two in an unlocked nightstand. Will the police be satisfied when they see the long guns in the safe, and not inquire about any other guns in the house? There's no way that the "safe storage" scheme can be effective without some sort of registration. Either that, or there would have to be exhaustive, warrantless searches of the entire house. Would you be comfortable having your entire house torn apart on a whim?
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Old July 8, 2014, 11:07 AM   #10
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderA
...There's no way that "safe storage" requirements can be enforced without random, warrantless inspections by the police....
Not necessarily. It becomes simply a matter of "catching" you if something bad happens.

So in the States which impose liability if a minor gets your loaded gun and hurts someone, there are "safe harbors" protecting you from liability if you met certain safe storage requirements. If you don't store your guns in accordance with those requirements, and a kid gets one and shoots someone, you'll go to jail and be civilly liable. If you did store your guns properly, you'll pretty much be off the hook.
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Old July 8, 2014, 11:07 AM   #11
ohbythebay
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Thanks for the info

I thought it was "no"...and understand about common sense. I have no children in the house, the guns are not laying about but also not under lock and key. The house is. So regardless of them being in a closet or in a gun safe, anyone stealing them would be liable, not me...that's my take. A home defense gun (or guns) doesn't do me any good if its under lock and key.

I may add some locks to some of them, especially the rifles.

Thanks for the heads up !
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Old July 8, 2014, 11:46 AM   #12
AlexanderA
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Frank Ettin wrote:

Quote:
Not necessarily. It becomes simply a matter of "catching" you if something bad happens.
It would depend on how the "safe storage" law would be written. I agree that the most moderate approach would be to give immunity from civil/criminal liability if "safe storage" guidelines were followed. Yet the gun controllers have a history of pushing the envelope as far as they can. "Safe storage" and "universal background checks" are buzzwords that play well in the public-relations arena. Just as with "denying guns to wife beaters," the gun controllers can be expected to make the most of these things.

We saw how the Coburn proposal on UBC's, which would have relied on voluntary incentives (such as immunity from liability if a background check was made), made no headway. The antigunners are simply not interested in anything that does not further their agenda.
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Old July 8, 2014, 11:52 AM   #13
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderA
Quote:
Not necessarily. It becomes simply a matter of "catching" you if something bad happens.
It would depend on how the "safe storage" law would be written. I agree that the most moderate approach would be to give immunity from civil/criminal liability if "safe storage" guidelines were followed. Yet the gun controllers have a history of pushing the envelope as far as they can....
Nonetheless, safe storage laws are not uncommon and they currently are along the lines I've described.
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Old July 8, 2014, 12:18 PM   #14
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I wonder how this would affect being able to get homeowners/renters insurance and how much the rates would be?

Unaffordable insurance would be a great back door victory for the anti's.
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Old July 8, 2014, 12:40 PM   #15
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BSA1
I wonder how this would affect being able to get homeowners/renters insurance and how much the rates would be?...
Remember that insurance rates are set largely by (1) evaluation of risk; and (2) competitive market forces. Government will sometime effectively regulate maximum rates or rate increases, but not minimum rates except in the context of oversight of carrier solvency.

There's even the possibility that gun safe storage laws, or safe storage practices, could help lower rates slightly. For example, some carriers will discount "scheduled valuables" rates if you have a safe.
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Old July 8, 2014, 08:35 PM   #16
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I'm not aware of any law that would require a gun be stored in a safe, lock box or other secure condition.

I'm am aware however of a case where a Marysville police officer left his loaded revolver in a car with his 4 kids and one of them was killed when they started playing with it. He was prosecuted for 2nd degree manslaughter but not convicted. If someone can't be convicted in a case such as this I would say there is no law in WA that requires one to secure their weapon. If there was he would have been convicted. He was also fired but later reinstated because of a union contract.

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Mary...152640455.html

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Old July 8, 2014, 09:02 PM   #17
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoalTrain49
...If someone can't be convicted in a case such as this I would say there is no law in WA that requires one to secure their weapon. If there was he would have been convicted. ....

http://www.king5.com/news/local/Mary...152640455.html
Well he wasn't acquitted either. As discussed here, a mistrial was declared because of a hung jury, and the prosecutor decided not to try him again.

In a case like that jurors will often be reluctant to convict, feeling that the defendant will be punished enough by having to live with the knowledge that he is responsible for the death of his child.

But if a stranger had taken the unattended gun and killed someone while robbing a convenience store, I think we'd see a different result.
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Old July 9, 2014, 04:12 PM   #18
BSA1
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Thanks Frank,

I didn't consider how safe storage actually reduces the odds of loss.
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Old July 9, 2014, 05:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
ALEXANDER A - " ... The antigunners are simply not interested in anything that does not further their agenda."
You're 100% correct and they never, ever, disengage.

Thwart them here, thwart them there, and they just regroup and come at us from a different direction ... forever.

The battle is unending.

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Old July 9, 2014, 06:58 PM   #20
RustyShackelford
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Locks; security measures.....

I wouldn't expect you to keep a defense gun under a security lock 24/07.
If you leave or have children/untrained adults near the weapons then a security system is a good idea.
A local metro cop in my city had a 3 year old boy crawl into his closet, grab a loaded .380acp pistol, firing a round. The child was not hurt but the cop faced admin actions.

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Old July 9, 2014, 10:53 PM   #21
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RustyShackelford
I wouldn't expect you to keep a defense gun under a security lock 24/07...
Keeping your sidearm on your person under your control is one approach. Another is the use of one of the many available lock boxes using a touch-key combination and allowing almost instant access.
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Old July 10, 2014, 12:14 AM   #22
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I could imagine a civil jury concluding that a gun owner didn't exercise the care of a reasonable and prudent person to prevent unauthorized access to his gun.
I get storage for safety and to prevent stuff being stolen if someone breaks in. But even if you have guns all over your house and even say your lawn, while it is a stupid idea, its perfectly legal and if some takes them its perfectly illegal. I am preventing unauthorized access to them by having them on my property. If there are no charges for someone taking a gun that is IN YOUR HOUSE, wether it be safely stored or not, then by that logic somebody should be able to take your car if its parked in your driveway. You could have always parked it in your garage.
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Old July 10, 2014, 01:07 AM   #23
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I have many guns locked in my safe, but I do have an AR and handgun loaded by/on my nightstand. I have no children, relatives, friends or anyone that enter my bedroom though. If someone breaks into my home, steals and commits a crime with my loaded handgun, they would have done the same after they popped my cheap safe open and gained access to guns/ammo/mags anyway. Depending on the safe, in the event of a break in some offer very little security (mine just makes it really convenient for 2 guys to pack all the guns out, it only weighs about 50lbs by itself).
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Old July 10, 2014, 01:08 AM   #24
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I guess I'll never live in Wa., or any other state that has such ridiculous laws. For now I'll enjoy the freedom to store them where, and how I want, which is loaded, at my easy access, here and there throughout my home in the great state of Az.. Don't get me wrong, common sense is always good, but when LE needs to inspect my home, or make laws about gun locks, or how they are stored, they are infringing on my rights. simply put, it's no one's business but my own

GS
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Old July 10, 2014, 01:10 AM   #25
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samort457
...I am preventing unauthorized access to them by having them on my property....
You might believe that, but a jury would not agree if you were ever unfortunate enough to have to make your case in court.
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