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Firearm theft reporting now mandatory in WA

by R. HANS MILLER
Managing Editor | March 26, 2024 5:21 PM

OLYMPIA — Gun safety legislation requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms has been signed into law as of Tuesday. The new law passed through the Washington Legislature as House Bill 1903 and was sponsored by Rep. Liz Berry, D-Queen Anne, and requires that a report be made within 24 hours. 

“States with these laws have a 30% lower risk that guns will be purchased in that state and recovered after a crime in another state,” Berry said. “By giving law enforcement the tools they need to identify and investigate patterns of gun trafficking our communities will be safer. This bill will save lives.”

While Berry said she feels it will save lives, the National Rifle Association has said that the bill punishes law-abiding gun owners who have been the victims of a crime with fines of $1,000. 

Locally, Representatives Tom Dent and Alex Ybarra, both Republicans from Moses Lake and Quincy, respectively, voted against the bill in the House. In the Washington Senate, Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, and Niki Torres, R-Pasco also voted against the bill. 

Supporters of the new law based some of their reasoning on a report from Giffords that indicated about 380,000 firearms are stolen annually in the U.S. Many are not reported and are subsequently sold illegally and used in violent crimes, the report says. Firearms stolen from vehicles are a part of that concern. However, fewer than 240,000 firearm thefts are reported each year, leaving about 40% of the lost or stolen weapons unreported. 

Berry worked for former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords at the time Giffords was shot at a constituent event in 2011. Gabe Zimmerman, a colleague of Berry’s, was the first congressional staffer to be killed on the job.

“Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children in this country,” said Berry. 

It was unclear if that statement was accurate as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s cause of death statistics indicate accidents, including those with firearms, are the leading cause of death. That number is followed by congenital malformations and similar conditions, with homicide coming in third. The data set includes information from 2018 through 2021.

Berry indicated she is committed to commonsense gun regulations to ensure public safety.

“As a mom of two young kids, I won’t stop fighting to keep our communities safe,” she said.