Gov. Jay Inslee signed the Sheena Henderson Act into law Tuesday, setting up a notification system for families when police return a confiscated gun back to its owner.
Sheena Henderson’s father, Gary Kennison, said Tuesday the bill was not about taking away gun rights. “It’s giving family members the ability to protect their loved ones,” he said.
Sheena Henderson’s friends say the slain woman might have been able to protect herself if she had been notified by police that her estranged husband, Chris Henderson, had gone to the Spokane Police Department to retrieve his gun. Police had previously confiscated the weapon following a suicide attempt.
The day that Sheena Henderson was shot, “she was going to call and check on the gun on the way to work,” said Kristen Otoupalik, Sheena’s friend who lobbied the Legislature to pass the bill.
But Sheena never called, and Chris Henderson used the gun to kill Sheena and himself at her workplace, Deaconess Hospital in Spokane.
If the law had been in place, “we would have been able to keep her safe longer,” Otoupalik said Tuesday following the bill signing.
Senate Bill 5381 allows family or household members to request to be notified when police return a firearm to its owner. The notification can be done by telephone, email, text or personal service.
Both of Sheena’s children attended the bill signing on Tuesday, along with several friends and family members.
TVW taped the bill signing ceremony, watch it online here.
Kennison and Otoupalik say they intend to return to Olympia to continue to push for House Bill 1448, which creates a process for law enforcement officers to request mental health evaluations of people who attempt suicide.
The bill passed the House and out of a Senate committee, but was not brought up for a floor vote in the Senate before the end of regular session on April 24.