Washington State Gun Laws

The state of Washington is continuing to lead the charge towards gun safety reforms as the state passed a ballot to place extreme risk protection orders that gives family members and law enforcement the right to petition a court to remove firearms from dangerous individuals.

This is an example of a common sense gun law that could potentially prevent mass shootings throughout Washington, and if nationally implemented, the entire country.

This isn’t the first common sense gun law that Washington has passed. The 2014 measure that instituted universal background checks on all firearm purchases has been deemed a whopping success thus far.

Like many western states, Washington has gun laws that protect people’s right to bear arms and hunt recreationally. As of later this year, some of the requirements to obtain a gun or a concealed carry license are going to change, and it’s important that you fully understand these new laws if you live or come to visit Washington.

We are going to discuss some of the distinct Washington state gun laws including concealed carry, where to legally purchase, how to apply for a firearm and whether or not the current laws are working and are projected to succeed.

2017 Gun Law Reforms

Some of the main state gun laws in Washington include the following:

  • Background checks for firearm transfers between private parties
  • Firearm dealers must obtain a state license and impose background checks on all employees
  • The prohibition of certain domestic violence convicts and people subject to a domestic violence order of protection from purchasing or even possessing any kind of firearm; and
  • The requirement of all firearms dealers to have a license in order to transfer ammunition

Just like all the other states in America, Washington state could go much further with their gun laws, but with huge contributions from the NRA, to many Republicans in Congress, it is up to the direct democracy of the constituents of Washington to conduct even further gun restrictions.

With the new 2017 measure a gun applicant’s constitutional right to bear arms shall not be denied unless they fall under one of the following stipulations:

  • He or she is ineligible to possess a firearm under the existing gun laws or is prohibited of firearm possession under federal law
  • The applicant’s concealed pistol license is in a revoked status
  • He or she is under 21-years-old
  • He or she is subject to a court order or injunction regarding firearms
  • He or she is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentencing of a felony
  • He or she has a warrant for his or her arrest
  • He or she has been ordered to forfeit a firearm under RCW 9.41.098 (e) within a year before filing an application to carry a concealed pistol

Needless to say, the gun laws in Washington are stringent and rather complicated. One of the more controversial aspects of the state’s gun laws deals with concealed carry.

Concealed Carry

Washington is a ‘shall-issue’ state, which means that any local law enforcement has the obligation to issue a concealed weapons license to any applicant who meets the qualifications listed above.

Any person who does qualify for a concealed pistol license must do so within the municipality or county in which they reside. A nonresident of Washington has the right to apply anywhere in the state.

Washington has a law that prohibits the carrying of concealed handguns without a license except in a person’s home or place of business. There are some exceptions for law enforcement officers, military personnel, government employees, target shooting club members and several other stipulations including the use of firearms within lawful outdoor recreational activity.

There are certain places where it is prohibited to carry a gun regardless of whether someone is lawfully carrying concealed, and these places in Washington include the following:

  • Restricted areas of a jail
  • Area used in court proceedings
  • Restricted areas of mental health facilities
  • Any portion of an establishment that is off limits to people under 21 years of age
  • Restricted access areas of commercial airports
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school premises

Where to Legally Purchase 

There are many freedoms when it comes to legally purchasing a firearm in Washington, and still today you can buy a rifle or shotgun without a license, but now there is an extensive application process to purchase handguns.

As explained earlier, there must be background checks for private sales of firearms. When it comes to actually going out and purchasing a firearm in Washington, there are endless gun retailers who are all legal and willing to help you get what you need to be legally armed.

Some of the more popular firearm dealers in Washington include the West Coast Armory Indoor Range in Bellevue, the West Coast Armory in Issaquah, Bear Arms Inc. in Kent and Surplus Ammo & Arms in Tacoma.

How to Apply for a Gun 

It’s fairly simple to apply for a concealed pistol license in Washington, and as long as you fulfill the government’s requirements, the local law enforcement is obligated to give you a concealed carry license.

The only real requirements for a law-abiding citizen is that they must be at least 21-years-old, must apply in person at a local law enforcement agency and they must get fingerprinted for a background check. There’s also a $48 fee you’ll have to be prepared for as well.

To get a concealed pistol license, you’ll have to complete a concealed pistol license application, bring in a Photo ID with you and your payment to your local law enforcement agency. Once they have your fingerprints, it takes 30 to 60 days to complete the background check and once that’s done your license is valid for five years.

When it comes to getting a concealed pistol license in Washington, it’s not only really easy if you’re not in any kind of trouble, but it’s also very affordable.

Are the Laws Working? 

These types of gun law questions are always going to be up for debate, but many of Washington’s gun law initiatives have been backed by independent groups like judges, prosecutors, policemen, health experts, faith leaders and even gun owners.

As stated earlier, it’s extremely easy for most people to obtain a firearm in Washington, and it’s still rather easy to get a concealed pistol license as well, as compared to other states.

Regardless, the new gun laws in Washington are a step forward not only for the people of the state, but also the entire country.

Contact an Experienced Spokane Criminal Attorney

Gun charges are serious and you should seek immediate assistance from a competent criminal defense attorney if you are facing these charges. In most cases, it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact Twyford Law Office at (855) 980-0678 if you have been arrested for a gun charge; we will work hard to protect your rights and provide zealous advocacy.