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Washington Gun Control Laws

While the federal government has some limited regulations on firearms, gun control laws are primarily a state law issue. As such, gun control laws vary widely from one state to another.

Washington State Gun Control Laws

In Washington, gun control laws are nuanced and vary depending on the type of gun. The basics of Washington gun control laws are listed below.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

Washington Revised Code, Title 9, 9.41m Sections 9.41.040 through 9.41.810

Illegal Arms

It is illegal to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or possess:
  • Machine guns
  • Bump-fire stocks
  • Undetectable firearms
  • Short-barreled shotguns
  • Short-barreled rifles, unless it complies with federal law
  • Any parts designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, bump-fire stock, undetectable firearm, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle

Waiting Period

  • There is a 10-day waiting period after the purchase of a firearm for a dealer to perform a background check.
  • If the buyer passes the background check, the dealer may deliver the firearm to the buyer before the 10 days elapse.
  • If the buyer does not have valid Washington identification or has not been a resident of Washington, the period is extended to 60 days.
  • A licensed dealer may not deliver a semiautomatic assault rifle to a purchaser or transferee until ten business days have elapsed from the date of the purchase application or, in the case of a transfer, ten business days have elapsed from the date a background check is initiated.

Who May Not Own

These individuals may not own a firearm:
  • Individuals convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of any felony prohibiting firearm possession, certain violent or sex crimes, domestic violence or other crimes against a household member, family member, or intimate partner, or a felony in which a firearm was used or displayed
  • Individuals who are subject to a protective order (restraining order)
  • Individuals committed by a court for treatment of mental illness
  • Minors under 18, with some exceptions for possessing a firearm, such as hunting with a license or shooting competitions
  • Individuals with a history of violent acts who have been ruled by a court of law to be incompetent
  • Non-citizens who do not have a green card
  • Individuals convicted three times within five years of driving under the influence

License Required?

Washington does not require a license to own a gun.

Concealed Carry License Required?

To carry a concealed firearm, you must have a concealed pistol license.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carry is not prohibited, except in places where firearms are prohibited. It is illegal to carry, exhibit, display, or draw a firearm or any weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To obtain a concealed pistol license, you must:
  • Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm under Washington or federal law
  • Be 21 years of age or older at the time of application
  • Have no court order or injunction against possessing a firearm
  • Not have a pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony offense
  • Not have an outstanding warrant for any charge
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
  • Not have been ordered to forfeit a firearm within one year before filing an application for a concealed pistol license

Machine Gun Laws

It is illegal to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or possess a machine gun in Washington. The only exception is a machine gun acquired before July 1, 1994, that is possessed in compliance with federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

Illegal firearm possession penalties vary depending on the crime. Some firearm possession crimes are misdemeanors, but many are felonies.
  • A class B felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional institution for a term up to 10 years and by a fine up to $20,000.
  • A class C felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional institution for a term up to 5 years and by a fine up to $10,000.
  • Concealed carry without license is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment up to 90 days, and a fine up to $1,000.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

Possessing a firearm 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 is a gross misdemeanor. The penalties are:
  • Imprisonment up to 1 year and up to a $5,000 fine
  • If the offender has a concealed pistol license, revocation of the license for a period of three years

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Washington Gun Control Laws: Related Resources

Need More Information on Washington Gun Laws? Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

Washington has strict gun laws, and there are harsh penalties for violations. If you carried a concealed weapon without a permit or are facing other gun charges, then you need to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Washington who can evaluate the strength of the prosecutor's case against you and analyze your options going forward.

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