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Unintentional Shootings and Washington State Gun Laws

By Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

Here is an excellent article about unintentional shootings in Washington State. Despite the recent surge in injuries and deaths due to unintentional shootings, the Washington Legislature has not passed any additional gun laws.…

Gun safety advocates in Washington have launched a public health campaign, urging parents to ask about guns before allowing children to play at a friend’s home. Also, Initiative 594 will be on the November ballot; it will require background checks on private gun sales.

Some firearms are sold with safety devices like a “loaded chamber indicator” or “magazine disconnect mechanism” that can prevent unintentional shootings like Karl Johnson’s shooting of Bradley Slater. A loaded chamber indicator is a readily visible device that plainly indicates that a cartridge is in the firing chamber. A magazine disconnect mechanism prevents a semiautomatic pistol that has a detachable magazine from operating to strike the primer of ammunition in the firing chamber when a detachable magazine is not inserted in the semiautomatic pistol.

Some gun hard-liners say that all guns should be considered loaded and we agree. Unintentional shootings however, clearly show that additional safety features can save lives and prevent injuries.

IN 2011, Ceasefire Oregon supported SB 659, which would have prohibited manufacturing, selling or rebuilding semiautomatic pistols without a magazine disconnect mechanism and prohibited removing or disabling a chamber load indicator or magazine disconnect mechanism. SB 659 was called “Chance’s Bill” because it was presented in honor of Chance Caron who was shot to death by a friend who thought his weapon was unloaded.

If you must have a weapon in your home, make the responsible decision to have these additional safety devices as well as a secure storage device.