OPINION: Gun measure to increase safety does the opposite

Removing WSUPD gun storage could mean more gun accidents, higher suicide risks



WSU Police will no longer be storing guns for students due to a new state law requiring stricter background checks and making the vetting process more cumbersome for police and students.

BRUCE MULMAT, Former Evergreen opinion editor

Over a decade ago, WAC 504-26-213 was put into place in order to enhance public safety in response to gun violence across the nation. However, the recent changes to Washington’s gun laws reduce the safety of Pullman residents.

WSUPD has a firearms locker in its building to provide a safe place for students to store firearms without violating the law. Due to the new interpretation of this regulation, WSUPD can no longer offer this service and announced this on Aug. 9.

“I kept my firearms at WSUPD’s location my freshman and sophomore year,” said WSU Gun Club President Jonah Ryan. “I think [this policy is] the police department wanting to reduce their liability.”

WAC 504-26-213 states that “No student may carry, possess or use any firearm, explosive (including fireworks), dangerous chemical or any dangerous weapon on university premises or in university-approved housing.”

This regulation also prohibits airsoft guns and other “items that shoot projectiles,” meaning even a Nerf or paintball gun would be a violation of the law.

This regulation also states that students must store their firearms with the WSU Department of Public Safety if they want them to be held on campus. However, WSUPD will no longer store firearms due to I-1639 conflicts with this previous regulation.

“Normally I would suggest to new members to go to the police station to store their firearms,” Ryan said. “Now I don’t have a good recommendation.”

This is a danger to the WSU community because now students will have to find new places to store their weapons in an environment that isn’t as safe.

“I am concerned about students storing their firearms on campus,” Ryan said. “If there was a safest place to put them, I would have recommended the police station.”

If you have an unsecured firearm in your household, it is more likely that the gun will harm a family member or someone you know, according to the Center for Disease Control. This makes it important to keep weapons in a gun safe or other secure location.

Now WSUPD will not offer a service to safely secure weapons for students who do not have access to a gun safe in Pullman like they might have in other areas.

Like many laws and regulations, WAC 504-26-213 was intended to protect people who venture onto WSU’s campus, but in the long run, will be more harmful to the community.

In 2017, 23,854 people used firearms in suicides, making up around 70 percent of firearm deaths according to the CDC. Lack of proper firearm storage is the main cause and contributes to accidental deaths as well.

Safe storage is incredibly important, and due to new interpretations in state law WSUPD is making campus less safe. This regulation is intended to curb the number of weapons on campus, but there are a variety of ways for students to store their weapons without resident advisers knowing, making gun safety more difficult.

Without this resource, there is a distinct possibility for more gun deaths in the community due to suicide or negligence.

The lack of safe storage on campus is a massive blow for safety that could result in a rise of suicides and accidental gun deaths in Pullman. The new interpretation of WAC 504-26-213 due to I-1639 reduces public safety.