Dear Fellow WaMA Members,

We have had inquiries regarding the passage of I-594 and what impact this has on museums. This law is set to go into effect on December 4, 2014 and affects the sale, gifting, and loaning of firearms. After reviewing the law and consulting with other legal and museum professionals, the Washington Museum Association recommends that all Washington museums should comply with this law. Because this law affects existing loan agreements and the process by which museums handle firearms loans and gifts, we recommend the following:

  • Museums are not exempt from this law.
  • Notify any lenders of firearms that their property may be subject to I-594*, and that the conditions of the loan may have changed.
  • If your museum has a current firearm loan subject to I-594, and the loan period ends on or after December 4, 2014, then the loan must be returned to the original owner via a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL).
  • This law is not retroactive, so museums currently possessing loaned firearms need not take any action to maintain legal possession of affected firearms.
  • If your museum takes an incoming loan or gift of a firearm subject to I-594 on or after December 4, 2014, then it must be transferred through an FFL.
  • Museum to Museum transfer of firearms subject to I-594 should be transferred via FFL on or after December 4, 2014.
  • Museums that borrow or possess firearms should review their loan agreement documentation as this law would impose additional obligations to loans involving firearms. Furthermore, this documentation should designate a staff person as the transferor/transferee of such objects affected by I-594.

*Examples not subject to this law include firearms made prior to January 1, 1899, black powder arms regardless of manufacture date, and permanently deactivated arms.

It is our recommendation that museums should comply with all laws to the best of their ability, and to inform lenders of objects to any possible changes to original loan agreements. This information should not be considered legal advice, just an opinion from the WaMA. If you have any questions about this matter we urge you to discuss with your museum’s legal counsel.

Yours in Museums,

Joseph Govednik, President
Washington Museum Association