Senate order bans all firearms from public gallery

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — All firearms will be banned from the public galleries above the Washington Senate floor once the legislative session begins in January.

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, a Democrat who serves as the presiding officer of the chamber, issued the order Monday. He told The Associated Press and Northwest News Network that his goal is to create a safer environment.

He sent a letter Monday to the chamber’s sergeant at arms detailing the steps of the new order.

The move comes nearly three years after officials decided to ban openly carried weapons in the House and Senate public viewing areas, as well as the public hearing rooms at the Capitol’s legislative office buildings. Habib’s order expands that rule to include those carrying concealed weapons with permits. For now, the rule is limited just to the public galleries in the Senate and doesn’t include the committee rooms.