Washington Gun Laws are based on the Article 1, Section 24 of the State of Washington’s Constitution which reads, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”
In general, Washington Gun Laws do not require permit to purchase, registration and licensing of rifle or shotgun owners. The same applies with handguns but it should be noted that the State Police keeps track of all purchases made from handgun dealers. Then, carrying a handgun in places outside the residence or place of business of a person requires a permit.
More of these shall be discussed in the succeeding section of this article.
Key Provisions of Washington Gun Laws
In addition to the general rules stated above, here are the other rules and regulations enumerated under Washington Gun Laws:
1. A person is not allowed to possess a firearm if he has any of the following disqualifying factors:
- Having an age below 18 years old, unless he is engaging in a lawful recreational activity involving a gun, a member of an organized competition, attending a firearm safety or hunting course, or a licensed hunter or trapper. It should be noted that when a person is traveling to or from the places where the mentioned activities are being held, his firearm should be unloaded and stored safely in an area of the vehicle where he has no direct access.
- A person convicted of a felony, serious violation of the law, or domestic violence (only if committed after July 1, 1993).
- He has a pending trial in court or has been acquitted of an offense due to the reason of insanity.
- Committed to a mental institution.
- Barred by a court order or decision from exercising the right to bear arms.
- A non-US resident without an alien firearm license.
2. The possession of a loaded firearm inside a vehicle requires a permit to carry.
3. Law enforcement officials, prison officials, millitary personnel and other persons allowed by law to carry firearms in their line of duty are not required to possess a permit to carry.
4. A person within a state-authorized recreational facility that uses firearms or who is within a gun collector’s club is not required to have a permit. The same exemption applies to licensed gun dealers and qualified law enforcement officials who are retired.
5. The abovementioned regulations covering firearms do not include antiques and replicas.
6. The possession, acquisition, manufacture, trade or transport of a machine gun or any of its working components is illegal. Excluded from this prohibition are peace officers, military personnel on duty and those who are in possesson of such firearms in compliance to federal laws.
7. Carrying a firearm in schools, school-owned transports, airports, restricted portions of jails, restricted areas of law enforcement facilities, court houses, places where persons under 21 are prohibited, prohibited areas of mental health institutions, and other areas where carrying a firearm is not allowed by federal laws is considered as unlawful. It should be kept in mind though the areas open to public such as entrances or exits of places wherein carrying a firearm is only partially restricted are not included in the prohibition. Again, law enforcement officials on duty or personnel authorized by the mentioned facilities are exempted from this restriction.
Permit to Carry Requirements
The following are the requirements that permit to carry applicants must meet:
1. The applicant must be at least 21 years old.
2. He should be of good character with no outstanding arrest warrant for felony or misdemeanor. Also, he should not be a subject to a restraining order or domestic violence suit that bars him from possessing firearms.
3. The person should not have any of the disqualifying factors mentioned in the preceding section (see item number 1 under the Key Provisions of Washington Gun Laws).
4. The individual applying must be a resident of the state.
5. He must be able to completely fill up the required forms, submit the additional documents needed and pay the necessary fees.
6. The applicant must pass the background check required by the issuing authority.
Validity of Permits Issued Under Washington Gun Laws in Other Jurisdictions
The following states honor permits issued under Washington Gun Laws:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota (only Class 1 permits are valid)
- South Dakota
On the other hand, only permits issued from these states are currently recognized by Washington Gun Laws:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota (only Class 1 permits are accepted)
Under Washington Gun Laws, the power to regulate firearms, ammunition, or their manner of discharge, transportation, registration, licensing, purchase, trade or transfer are reserved to the State Legislature. The political subdivisions of the State are not allowed to pass laws or ordinances that are more restrictive or inconsistent with the state law.