OFSVP Safe Storage Program

Supported by the Legislature, the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention received $1 million in state funding to support safe storage suicide prevention outreach and education efforts across Washington.

Violence Prevention and Safe Storage

Firearm availability in the home significantly increases the risk of theft, suicide and death from domestic violence. Mann and Michel, “Prevention of firearm suicide in the United States: What works and what is possible,” (2016), American Journal of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. Research indicates that removing access to a firearm decreases the likelihood of firearm-related suicide. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “Child Access Prevention and Safe Storage” One study found that in most of King County’s youth suicide deaths from firearms, youth obtained the weapon from a family member. In roughly a third of cases, the weapon was stored unlocked or loaded. Public Health – Seattle and King County, “ The impact of firearms on King County children and youth.”

All of this indicates the need for continued efforts to require or encourage secure storage of firearms. Washington law allows those in crisis to voluntarily, and temporarily store their firearms and allows for a voluntary waiver of firearm rights. RCW 9.41.350.

Washington law doesn’t directly require that a firearm be stored in a particular place or in a particular way. But a person who fails to securely store a firearm could be charged with a crime under certain circumstances. RCW 9.41.360. For this purpose, secure storage is defined as “A locked box, gun safe, or other secure locked storage space that is designed to prevent unauthorized use or discharge of a firearm.” RCW 9.41.010(39)(a).

Washington law further requires that when selling or transferring any firearm, every dealer shall offer to sell or give the purchaser or transferee a secure gun storage device, or a trigger lock or similar device that is designed to prevent the unauthorized use or discharge of the firearm.” RCW 9.41.365(1).

OFSVP Safe Storage Strategies

At the request of Governor Inslee and with the support of the Legislature, the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention received $1 million in state funds for 2024-2025 biennium to support safe storage programs and suicide prevention outreach and education efforts across the state.

This funding is being used to increase collaboration with health care providers, the Veterans Administration, law enforcement, schools, firearms dealers and communities across the state, and to expand, leverage, and evaluate existing safe storage efforts. OFSVP has distributed this funding as follows:

  • Public Health Seattle & King County, $400,000 ($200,000/fiscal yr.), Lock It Up program, statewide.
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital, $400,000 ($200,000/fiscal yr.), Safe Firearm Storage Program, statewide.

While both of these organizations are King County-based, using these funds they are both providing safe storage outreach and support in communities statewide. OFSVP has contracted with the University of Washington Firearm Injury Policy Research Program to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of these two programs. This will allow OFSVP and the two funded organizations to adjust future outreach and strategies to make sure safe storage investments are as effective as possible.