Gun Control Laws In Washington

by ECL Writer
Unlawful possession Of A Firearm In Washington

Gun Control Laws in Washington – In recent years, the debate surrounding gun control has become increasingly heated and divisive. While some argue that owning a firearm is a fundamental right protected by the Second Amendment, others believe that stricter regulations are necessary to prevent gun violence. As a resident of Washington, it’s important to understand the state’s gun control laws and how they may impact your ability to purchase, own, and carry a firearm.

In this comprehensive guide, will explore the various laws and regulations surrounding gun ownership in Washington, including background checks, concealed carry permits, and restrictions on certain types of firearms. Whether you’re a seasoned gun owner or simply looking to educate yourself on this important issue, this guide will provide you with the information you need to navigate the complex gun control laws in Washington. So let’s dive in and start exploring what it means to own a gun in Washington.

History Of Gun Control Laws In Washington

Washington’s history of gun control laws dates back to the early 1900s. In 1909, the state passed a law that made it illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. In the 1930s, Washington began regulating the sale and ownership of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and other firearms. In 1994, the state passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established a national system for background checks on firearm purchases.

In recent years, Washington has become a battleground for gun control advocates and opponents. In 2014, a ballot initiative was passed that required background checks for all gun sales, including online and at gun shows. In 2018, the state passed a law that raised the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle to 21 and established a waiting period for the purchase of such firearms.

Despite these efforts, Washington still ranks as one of the states with the highest rates of gun violence in the country. As of 2019, there were over 6,000 incidents of gun violence in Washington, resulting in 2,500 injuries and 320 deaths.

Overview Of New Gun Control Laws In Washington

Washington has several laws in place to regulate the purchase, ownership, and use of firearms. One of the most notable is the requirement for background checks on all gun sales, which was passed in a 2014 ballot initiative. This means that even if you purchase a firearm from a private seller, you must undergo a background check to ensure that you are not prohibited from owning a gun.

Washington also has restrictions on the types of firearms that can be sold and owned. For example, it is illegal to possess a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or short-barreled rifle unless you have a special permit. In addition, the state has banned the possession and sale of bump stocks, which are devices that can increase the rate of fire for semi-automatic rifles.

Washington also has laws in place to regulate the carrying of firearms. To carry a concealed weapon in the state, you must have a permit. Open carry is legal in Washington, but there are restrictions on where you can carry a firearm. For example, it is illegal to open carry in schools, courthouses, and certain other public places.

How Strict Are Gun Laws In Washington?

Interestingly, the state of Washington has a stringent gun law, but it specifically applies to hunters. This means that if you intend to engage in hunting activities, such as venturing into the woods to shoot an animal, you are obligated to complete a mandatory, two-part course that focuses on proper gun handling. The course, known as “hunter education,” spans 10 hours and covers crucial aspects such as gun safety and handling techniques.

Upon completing the ten-hour course, you are then required to visit a local gun club. Here, you must demonstrate your proficiency in loading, firing, and safely storing your firearm to an instructor repeatedly. It is essential to showcase your competence throughout this process. Making any mistakes, such as pointing a firearm at another individual, can lead to the denial of certification during the course and subsequent tests.

Concealed Carry Laws In Washington

To carry a concealed weapon in Washington, you must have a permit. The process for obtaining a concealed carry permit involves completing a firearms safety training course and submitting an application to your local law enforcement agency. The agency will conduct a background check and may require additional documentation before issuing a permit.

It’s important to note that Washington has a “shall-issue” policy for concealed carry permits. This means that as long as you meet the requirements and pass the background check, the law enforcement agency must issue you a permit. However, there are certain circumstances that may result in the denial of a permit, such as a history of domestic violence or a felony conviction.

Can I Carry A Concealed Handgun In Public In Washington?

Yes, you are allowed to carry a concealed handgun in public, but this privilege is limited to individuals holding a valid Concealed Pistol License (CPL).

Without a CPL, the carrying of a concealed handgun is restricted to your residence or workplace.

There are certain places where it is prohibited to possess firearms:

  • Airports: Federal law prohibits firearm possession once you pass TSA checkpoints, and many airports have additional regulations that forbid firearms anywhere within the airport premises.
  • Correctional facilities: This includes jails, prisons, detention centers, and juvenile facilities.
  • Office of Administrative Hearings: Buildings where the State conducts administrative hearings.
  • Elementary and secondary schools: This applies to both public and private educational institutions.

Please be aware that firearm regulations and restrictions can vary, so it is advisable to consult the specific laws and guidelines of your jurisdiction for accurate and up-to-date information.

Open Carry Laws In Washington

Open carry is legal in Washington, but there are restrictions on where you can carry a firearm. For example, it is illegal to open carry in schools, courthouses, and certain other public places. In addition, private property owners may prohibit the carrying of firearms on their premises.

It’s important to note that while open carry is legal in Washington, it may not be the best option in all situations. Carrying a visible firearm can make you a target for criminals or draw unwanted attention from law enforcement. If you choose to open carry, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution.

Gun Purchase And Ownership Laws In Washington

Washington has several laws in place to regulate the purchase and ownership of firearms. As mentioned earlier, background checks are required for all gun sales, including private sales. In addition, there are restrictions on the types of firearms that can be sold and owned. It is illegal to possess a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, or short-barreled rifle without a special permit.

Washington also has laws in place to regulate the storage of firearms. If you have a firearm in your home, it must be kept in a locked container or secured with a trigger lock unless it is under your immediate control or being used for lawful recreational activities. Failure to properly store a firearm can result in criminal charges if someone gains access to the firearm and uses it to harm themselves or others.

What Is The Background Check Procedure In Washington For Purchasing A Firearm?

Under federal law, federally licensed firearms dealers (FFL) are obligated to conduct background checks on individuals seeking to purchase firearms.

Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring background checks for all job applicants in 2014. This law mandates that all firearms sellers in Washington must facilitate firearms sales through an FFL. As a result, an FFL will do a background check on a Washington resident who purchases a handgun privately, treating the transaction as though the FFL were actually selling the resident the firearm.

To adhere to federal law, an FFL must utilize the FBI/National Instant Criminal Background Check System (FBI/NICS). This system serves as a comprehensive nationwide database encompassing criminal history, protection orders, and warrants. The duration of NCIS checks can vary from a few minutes to several days.

For the purchase of a handgun and a semiautomatic rifle, successful completion of a background check is mandatory.

In addition to federal requirements, Washington state law mandates that firearms sellers incorporate the Washington State Patrol (WSP) electronic database and the Department of Social and Health Services electronic database when conducting background checks.

It’s important to note that background check procedures may be subject to change and it is advisable to consult the latest laws and regulations governing firearms purchases in Washington.

How Long Does A Background Check Take In Washington?

In Washington state, there is a provision for completing a background check on a potential handgun buyer within a 10-day period, unless the individual passes the background check earlier.

However, certain circumstances allow for an extended timeframe of up to 60 days. These cases include:

  • If the individual does not possess a valid Washington driver’s license or State ID card.
  • If the individual has not been a resident of Washington for the preceding consecutive 90 days.

Gun Laws For Minors In Washington

Washington has several laws in place to regulate the possession and use of firearms by minors. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a firearm, except for certain circumstances such as hunting or target shooting under adult supervision.

In addition, any person who sells or transfers a firearm to a minor must obtain the consent of the minor’s parent or guardian. This includes private sales, which are subject to the same background check requirements as sales through licensed dealers.

Gun Laws For Domestic Violence Offenders In Washington

Washington has strict laws in place to prevent domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms. Under federal law, anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. In addition, Washington has a law that requires anyone subject to a domestic violence protection order to surrender any firearms they own or possess.

It’s important to note that domestic violence includes not just physical violence, but also emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse. If you are convicted of domestic violence or subject to a protection order, it’s critical that you comply with the firearms surrender requirements to avoid further legal consequences.

Penalties For Violating Gun Control Laws In Washington

Violating gun control laws in Washington can result in serious criminal penalties. For example, possessing a machine gun or sawed-off shotgun without a permit is a felony offense that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

In addition, violating the state’s firearms storage laws can result in misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $1,000. Selling or transferring a firearm to a minor without the consent of their parent or guardian is also a misdemeanor offense that carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Advocacy Groups And Their Stances On Gun Control In Washington

There are several advocacy groups in Washington that promote different positions on gun control. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the largest and most influential groups in the state, and advocates for the protection of Second Amendment rights and against stricter gun control regulations.

On the other side of the debate, there are groups such as the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which advocates for stricter gun control laws in Washington. The group has been instrumental in passing several ballot initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence in the state.

Facts About Gun Crimes And Laws In Washington

In 2015, Washington ranked 14th in terms of the lowest number of gun deaths per capita and 17th in the lowest rate of crime gun exports, which refers to firearms initially sold in Washington and later recovered after being used for crimes in other states. Here are some key facts about guns in the state:

  • Private-party firearm transfers necessitate a background check.
  • All firearms dealers must possess a state-issued license and conduct background checks for firearm sales or ammunition transfers.
  • Employees of firearms dealers are subject to background checks.
  • Individuals with a domestic violence misdemeanor or under a protection order are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
  • While the possession or transfer of assault weapons, large-capacity ammunition magazines, and .50 caliber rifles is not prohibited, the sale of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns is prohibited.
  • Licensing for firearm owners is not mandatory.
  • Firearms registration is not required.
  • There is no limit on the number of firearms that can be purchased at once.
  • Waiting periods are not applicable for firearm purchases, except for handguns, which have a five-day waiting period.
  • Handgun purchasers must provide personal information such as name, address, driver’s license number, race, and gender. They must also provide a statement asserting their eligibility to possess a handgun.
  • Non-residents may be required to wait 60 days to purchase a handgun if they have not been a resident for at least three months.
  • Individuals with felony convictions or those who are not legal U.S. citizens may be disqualified from purchasing firearms.
  • There are no specific regulations regarding unsafe handguns.
  • The sale of ammunition is not significantly regulated.
  • Local governments have limited authority to regulate ammunition and firearms.
  • If an individual meets basic qualifications, local law enforcement is obligated to issue a concealed handgun license.
  • Open carry of a loaded handgun is permitted in places where it is legal, as long as it is not intended to intimidate others. However, a valid concealed carry license is required for open carry in a vehicle.

Please note that this information may be subject to change and it is important to consult the latest laws and regulations in Washington regarding firearms.

Future Of Gun Control Laws In Washington

Washington’s gun control laws are complex and constantly evolving. While the state has made strides in recent years to address gun violence, there is still much work to be done. As a responsible gun owner or citizen, it’s important to stay informed about the latest laws and regulations and to advocate for policies that promote public safety while preserving Second Amendment rights.

In the coming years, it’s likely that Washington will continue to debate and enact new gun control laws. Whether you’re a gun owner, advocate, or concerned citizen, it’s important to stay engaged in the conversation and work towards a safer and more responsible approach to gun ownership in our state.

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