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WA State Law Summary

NOTE: This article does not yet reflect the measure 594 impacts that were voted into place in the 11/2014 election. I will update it shortly to reflect those changes.

Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change and the following answers may not reflect changes in the laws.

As of May, 2005

State Requirements

Rifles and Shotguns

  • Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Registration of rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No.

Handguns

  • Permit to purchase handgun? No.*
  • Registration of handguns? No.*
  • Licensing of owners of handguns? No.*
  • Permit to carry handguns? Yes.

*Police record is made of purchases from dealers.

Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change.

Purchase

There are no state licensing requirements for the purchase of rifles or shotguns.

The purchaser of a pistol must sign in triplicate and deliver to the dealer an application containing:

  • His or her full name, street address, date and place of birth, race, and gender.
  • Date and hour of application.
  • Driver’s or state identification number.
  • A description of the pistol including the make, model, caliber and manufacturer’s number; and a statement that the purchaser is eligible to possess a pistol.

The dealer shall deliver the pistol to the purchaser following the elapse of five business days from the receipt of the application for purchase.

This period shall be 60 days if the purchaser lacks a Washington driver’s license or state identification card or has not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive 90 days.

There is no waiting period where the applicant has a valid license to carry a pistol concealed.

The dealer shall not deliver the pistol if he is notified in writing by the police chief or sheriff denying the purchaser’s application to purchase and the reasons for the denial.

The police chief or sheriff may obtain a 30 day extension of the waiting period if reasonable grounds exist based on the presence of open or pending criminal charges, outstanding felony warrant, record of arrest lacking a deposition of the charges which may cast doubt on the applicant’s right to possess a pistol, or pending mental commitment proceedings.

A court may extend this 30 day extension further for good cause shown.

A license shall be issued, unless the applicant is ineligible to possess a pistol.

The state of Washington preempts all cities, towns and other political subdivisions from requiring a purchaser to have a permit to purchase or from requiring a dealer to secure a permit from each sale.

Possession

There are no state licensing requirements for the possession of rifles, shotguns or handguns.

It is unlawful to own, possess or have in control any firearm by a person:

  • Convicted, or as a juvenile adjudicated, of a felony, serious offense, domestic violence offense if committed after July 1, 1993 (those being: assault in 4th degree, coercion, stalking, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass in 1st degree, violating a protective order and/or violating a restraining order)
  • Who is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentence for a serious offense.
  • Acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity.
  • Who has ever been committed by a court due to mental illness, or if the individual is under the age of 18.

In some circumstances, "convicted" may include a dismissal entered after a period of probation, suspension or deferral.

Persons under age 18 may possess a rifle or shotgun only if they have a valid hunter’s safety certificate and are over age 14, or are under the supervision of a parent or guardian or another person authorized by the parent or guardian. Persons under age 18 may also posses any legal firearm while hunting or trapping with a valid license, participating in lawful target shooting or organized competition, attending a hunter safety or firearms training course, or are traveling to or from such activity with an unloaded and inaccessible firearm.

It is a felony for any person who is not a citizen of the United States to carry or possess any firearm, without first having obtained an alien firearm license from the director of licensing; the director may issue a license upon the certificate of the consul within the state who represents the alien’s country, stating that said alien is a responsible person and upon the payment of a $55.00 fee, plus additional charges imposed by the FBI.

An alien license is valid for 5 years.

This does not apply to Canadian citizens residing in a province which has an enactment or public policy providing substantially similar privilege to residents of the state of Washington and who are carrying or possessing weapons for the purpose of using them in the hunting of game while such persons are in the act of hunting, or while on a hunting trip, or while such persons are competing in a bona fide trap or skeet shoot or any other organized contest where rifles, pistols, or shotguns are used.

Carry

A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on his person without a license to carry a concealed weapon. A person may carry concealed without a license in his place of abode or fixed place of business.

A person at least 18 years old who is in possession of an unloaded pistol shall not leave it in a vehicle unless the unloaded pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless:

    He has a license to carry a concealed weapon and the pistol is on his person, or

    The person with the concealed carrying license is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or

    The person with the concealed carrying license is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

The prohibition against carrying concealed without a license does not apply to law enforcement personnel and prison or jail wardens or their deputies; military personnel when on duty; regularly enrolled members of any organization authorized to purchase or receive pistols from the U.S. and regularly enrolled members of target shooting or collectors’ clubs and any person engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity, provided such persons are at or going to or from such activities; gun dealers in the usual or ordinary course of their business; carrying unloaded and in a closed opaque case or secure wrapper; and qualified retired law enforcement officers.

Application for a license to carry a pistol concealed on the person for protection, business, sport or travel may be made to a police chief or sheriff where you reside, or anywhere in the state for a non-resident.

The official shall issue the license within 30 days of application.

The license shall be issued within 60 days if the applicant lacks a Washington identification card or driver’s license or has not been a resident of Washington for the previous consecutive 90 days.

The issuing authority shall not refuse to accept completed applications for concealed pistol licenses during regular business hours. The right to have the license shall not be denied unless the applicant:

  • is ineligible to own or posses a pistol

  • Is under 21 years of age.
  • Is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony.
  • Has an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony or misdemeanor.
  • Is subject to a restraining order or domestic violence action requiring the surrender of a deadly weapon.

The applicant must submit to fingerprinting.

The license is valid for five years.

The fee for an original license is $36.00, plus additional FBI charges.

The renewal fee is $32.00.

No other additional charges by any branch or unit of government shall be borne by the applicant for the issuance or renewal of the license.

A political subdivision shall not modify these requirements.

It is unlawful for a person to carry onto, or to possess, on public or private elementary or secondary school premises, school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools any firearm or any air gun, including any air pistol or air rifle, designed to propel a BB, pellet, or other projectile by the discharge of compressed air, carbon dioxide or other gas.

Those licensed to carry a concealed weapon may carry a firearm while picking up or dropping off a student on school premises.

It is unlawful to carry, transport, convey, possess or control in or on a motor vehicle a shotgun or rifle containing shells or cartridges in the magazine or chamber, or a muzzle-loading firearm loaded and capped or primed.

While knowingly in possession or control of a firearm, it is illegal to enter any portion of any establishment declared off-limits to persons below 21 years of age; commercial service airport, or the restricted portion of a jail or law enforcement facility; areas of buildings used for court proceedings; restricted areas of mental health facilities, except that restricted access portions of a jail or law enforcement facility shall not include entrances or exits, or areas open to public access.

Antiques and Replicas

Regulations regarding the carrying of firearms do not apply to antique firearms which are firearms or replicas of firearms not designed or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898, including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the U. S. and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade, if the person carrying the antique firearm is regularly enrolled as a member of club(s) organized for the purposes of modern and antique firearm collecting, when the individual is going to or from collector’s gun shows and exhibits.

Machine Guns

It is unlawful to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, or any part thereof capable of use or assembling or repairing any machine gun.

Exempt are peace officers and members of the military when on duty, and persons complying with federal law who possess a National Firearms Tax Stamp authorizing possession and who produce, manufacture, or test machine guns.

A machine gun is defined as any weapon mechanism or instrument not requiring that the trigger be pressed for each shot and having an ammunition storage or feeding device which can be loaded into such weapon, mechanism or instrument and fired at the rate of five or more shots per second.

Miscellaneous

It is unlawful to change, alter, remove, or obliterate the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification on any firearm.

Possession of a firearm with its marks altered creates a legal presumption that the possessor committed the offense.

It is unlawful to set a spring gun, but this does not preclude the setting of "coyote getters" authorized by the state department of agriculture or the state department of game.

It is unlawful to carry, exhibit, display or draw any firearm in such a way as to manifest an intent to intimidate another. This does not apply to persons in their own home or place of business or to instances of self-defense or acting in furtherance of one’s official duties.

It is unlawful to shoot any handgun, rifle or shotgun across or along any public highway.

During a state of emergency, the governor may forbid the possession of firearms outside the home or place of business.
Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state gun laws shall not be enacted.

One Comment

  1. […] how this effects you the gun buyer or seller in the state of Washington. So I will be updating the Gun Laws in Wa post on this site as well as the Gun Buying for the Paranoid in hopes to help shed some light on […]

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