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Washington Gun Laws

Washington Gun Laws



Over the past ten years, Washington’s gun laws have undergone substantial revisions, reflecting the state’s commitment to harmonizing Second Amendment rights with contemporary perspectives on public safety. From background checks to assault weapon regulations, these changes underscore Washington’s dedication to responsible firearm ownership. This article provides an overview of the key updates in Washington’s gun laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, presented in bullet points:

2013 – Universal Background Checks Enactment:

   – Adoption of laws mandating background checks for all firearm sales, including private transactions.

2014 – Enhanced Mental Health Reporting:

   – Strengthened reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

   – Aims to prevent firearm access by individuals with mental health concerns.

2015 – Enhanced Penalties for Gun Crimes:

   – Introduction of legislation imposing stricter penalties for individuals convicted of gun-related crimes.

   – Aims to deter illegal firearm use and promote public safety.

2016 – Enhanced Background Checks for Assault Weapons:

   – Passage of laws requiring enhanced background checks for assault weapon purchases.

2017 – Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Enactment:

   – Adoption of laws allowing law enforcement to seek temporary firearm removal from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others.

2018 – “Bump Stock” Ban:

   – Enactment of laws prohibiting the possession, sale, or transfer of bump stocks, enhancing regulation of firearm accessories.

2019 – Enhanced Reporting on Lost or Stolen Firearms:

   – Strengthened laws requiring firearm owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within a specific timeframe.

2020 – Assault Weapon Regulations:

   – Exploration of potential legislation to further regulate or ban certain types of assault weapons.

2021 – Enhanced Oversight of Firearms Dealers:

   – Strengthened regulation and oversight of firearm dealers to ensure responsible sales practices.

2022 – Firearm Waiting Period Discussion:

    – Exploration of potential legislation implementing a mandatory waiting period for firearm purchases.

2022 – Enhanced Training for Concealed Carry:

    – Exploration of measures to enhance training requirements for individuals applying for concealed carry permits.

2023 – Enhanced Reporting on Domestic Violence:

    – Strengthened reporting of domestic violence incidents to NICS, preventing individuals with restraining orders from accessing firearms.

2023 – Firearm Storage and Child Access Prevention Laws:

    – Enactment of laws promoting responsible firearm storage and holding adults accountable for securing firearms from children’s access.

2023 – Firearm Safety Education Initiatives:

    – Introduction of initiatives promoting firearm safety education and training among gun owners.

    – Emphasis on responsible practices and handling.

Washington’s gun laws have evolved significantly over the past decade, showcasing the state’s commitment to responsible firearm ownership and community safety. These changes underscore Washington’s proactive approach to firearm regulation. As the state continues to refine its laws, it remains important for stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to engage in informed discussions that balance individual rights with community security.

The state of Washington does not have any outstanding restrictions in concerns to firearms. No firearm license is necessary to purchase or to possess a firearm. However, a certain application process is required for the purchase of a handguns that is not necessary for the purchase of rifles or shotguns.
An application must be made for any individual seeking to purchase a handgun. The application will contain the person’s name, address, driver’s license number, and the race and gender of the individual. The application also requires that the model, type, caliber, and manufacturer’s number be included as well. A statement by the purchaser that he/she is eligible to be in a possession of a pistol is required with the application. There is a five day waiting period for the delivery of the pistol to the buyer.
Non-residents may have to wait a total of 60 days if the applicant has not been a resident of the state for at least three months. However, the waiting period may be extended yet another thirty days if it is deemed by the local police chief or sheriff that the applicant may not be eligible for the possession of a pistol, and further information is needed to verify the applicant’s status as eligible.
Though there is no formal registration needed under Washington firearm laws for gun owners or firearms, police records are kept for the purchase of all firearms. This acts as a form of registration that is not mandated by law, and the proper authorities can keep track of firearms and their owners to a certain extent.
Possession of a firearm does not require a firearm license by the state. The age requirement for an individual to be in legal possession of a firearm is 18 years. Minors under the age of 18 may be in legal possession of a firearm if they can provide for a valid hunter’s license or hunter’s safety certificate. This juncture, however, only applies to shotguns and rifles, and excludes handgun possession.
A minor actively engaged in hunting or other sporting activities at the time of possession is legally excluded and may carry any firearm at said time. This also includes while traveling to and from such activities, as long as the firearm is unloaded and not easily accessible if found in possession while in a motor vehicle.
Certain requirements must be met in order to be considered eligible for possession under Washington law. Individuals that have a history of felony charges are immediately disqualified. Individuals that are not legal citizens of the United States may not possess a firearm unless they are provided with an alien firearm license from the appropriate authorities.
The director in charge issuing the alien firearm license is required to contact the nearest consulate office of the alien’s country, and insure that the person is of good standing and responsible enough to possess a firearm. Canadian citizens are exempt to this law, as long as they residents of a province that has furnished them the necessary license or permit, and are carrying the weapons for lawful purposes such as hunting, trapping or skeet shooting.
A firearm license to carry a concealed weapon is required by the state. The only time this does not apply is if a person is within the immediate confines of his/her place of residence or place of business.
The minimum age for possession is 21 years, and the individual seeking to apply for a firearm license to carry a concealed weapon must meet the criteria of eligibility as imposed by state laws and regulations. Some of these statutes include that the applicant be free of any arrest warrants for felony or misdemeanor charges, and no criminal history of a felonies or misdemeanors on record.
Fingerprinting is required for the applicant to conduct the necessary background checks to insure eligibility. It is illegal to enter any government facility, office, or building that prohibits concealed weapon carry, even if the person has a firearm license for concealed carry. This also includes public facilities such as schools or airports.