Senate Approves Bill to Ban Open Carry Weapons at Demonstrations & Capitol Campus

A bill sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue) that would prohibit the open carry of firearms and other weapons on the state capitol grounds and within 250 feet of permitted public demonstrations was approved by the Senate by a vote of 28-20 on Thursday. [TVW Link]

SSB 5038 exempts on-duty military and law enforcement personnel, and any property owner or renter on their own property even if the demonstration is inside the 250-foot perimeter.

Every state has laws prohibiting concealed or open carry possession of firearms by civilians in certain locations. Washington state law currently restricts firearm possession in courthouses, jail facilities, bars, airports, and behavioral health facilities.

SSB 5038 would also prohibit open carry of firearms on the west capitol campus grounds where the state Legislative building, member and staff offices, governor’s mansion, and press houses are located.

Several states, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Nebraska, and Wyoming have prohibitions on concealed carry, open carry, or both at state legislative and other government-owned buildings, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

SSB 5038 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. It has until April 11 to be approved by the House to be eligible to become law this year.  

The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 25.