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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Senate Bans Open-Carry Guns In Public Galleries

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
The signs outside the Washington House and Senate public viewing galleries make it clear what is not allowed inside. The list includes umbrellas, backpacks and strollers, but not firearms.

Umbrellas, strollers and backpacks were already banned from the public viewing galleries in the Washington House and Senate.

Now Senate leaders have added a ban on openly-carried guns. The House may soon follow suit.

The move follows a recent incident where several gun rights advocates brought their firearms into the Washington House gallery. The State Patrol threatened one man with arrest because he had his finger near the trigger of his gun.

That incident triggered a renewed discussion over guns in the galleries. House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan noted there’s already a House rule that prohibits other items from the public viewing areas.

“We believe that the rule that exists today and has existed far before the time that I got here would apply to any kind of props or demonstrations which would prohibit weapons or guns in the gallery,” he said.

Lt. Governor Brad Owen presides over the Washington Senate. He supports a ban on open-carry in the galleries both to cut down on distraction and to put lawmakers on the floor at ease.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."