Wilson bill removes red tape for museum firearms displays

Allows firearms ‘transfers’ to museums for display purposes, resolves problem with 2014 law

OLYMPIA – A bill from Sen. Jeff Wilson that enables the transfer of firearms for museum displays was approved 49-0 in the state Senate Wednesday.

Senate Bill 5856 resolves one of the lingering problems with the state’s firearms-transfer law approved by voters in 2014. Initiative 594 imposed restrictions on the loaning and borrowing of legally-owned firearms to other parties when no sale is involved. The law generally requires that transfers go through dealers who must comply with criminal background check and waiting-period requirements, but provides a number of exceptions.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

“Unfortunately, nobody was thinking about museum displays when the law was passed, an example of the unintended consequences that often occur when sweeping new pieces of legislation are approved,” Wilson explained. “The law provided no mechanism for gun collectors to loan or gift firearms to museums for display purposes, or for the return of weapons to their owners when museum displays conclude.

“This bill will make it possible for owners of firearms to provide their weapons to museums without running afoul of state law.”

In committee testimony, representatives of Washington-state museums said the 2014 law made it impossible for firearms owners to provide display weapons to museums and historical societies. The revision would make it possible for non-profit organizations to arrange displays reflecting the importance of firearms in the history and development of Washington state.