OLYMPIA – A bill prioritizing public safety passed the Senate on Friday.  

Senate Bill 5444, sponsored by Sen. Javier Valdez (D-Seattle), expands the list of public places where possessing weapons is strictly prohibited. Among the newly added locations are public libraries, zoos, aquariums, and transit stations or facilities used for public transportation services. The bill aims to extend common-sense safeguards to locations frequented by families, particularly those with children, in order to create environments free from the constant worry of potential harm. 

“This legislation underscores our commitment to safeguarding public spaces and ensuring the safety of our communities,” Valdez commented. “By prohibiting weapons in these areas, we are taking proactive measures to mitigate potential risks and create environments where families can feel safe.” 

Law enforcement personnel would be exempted from these weapons prohibitions, and people with concealed carry licenses would retain that ability in most public spaces. These exemptions were crafted to balance public safety concerns with individual rights and responsibilities. 

“We have carefully considered feedback from various stakeholders and have crafted a balanced approach that prioritizes safety while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners,” Valdez added. 

This legislation would also look to prevent instances where armed displays in public serve as a means of intimidation, ensuring that public spaces remain safe and welcoming for all people, especially children. 

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.