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Gun Laws in Washington

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Washington imposes strict laws on who can own guns, where a person can carry a weapon, and where and how residents can purchase these firearms. Violating these gun laws can lead to significant penalties and a permanent loss of firearm privileges; it is important to understand Washington’s gun laws and follow them closely to avoid these serious consequences.

What Is Unlawful Possession of a Firearm?

Washington requires any person who wishes to purchase a firearm to meet certain requirements. Anyone who wishes to purchase a gun must undergo a background check as well as pass a waiting period, which is 10 days for Washington residents and up to 60 days for out-of-state residents.

The following individuals cannot own a gun in Washington.

  • Any individual who is not a United States citizen and does not have a green card.
  • Any person convicted of a serious crime or certain domestic violence or harassment charges involving firearms.
  • Any minor under the age of 18, except if he or she is participating in hunting activities.
  • Any individual convicted under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
  • Anyone who a court has committed to a mental health facility.
  • Anyone ruled legally incompetent with a violent history.

In particular, any person convicted of a felony cannot possess or purchase a firearm. If you have a felony conviction on your record, you can face arrest and additional criminal charges if you own a gun.

Is Carrying a Concealed Weapon Legal in Washington State?

A concealed weapon refers to the act of publicly carrying an out-of-sight handgun on your person or in close proximity to you. All people who wish to carry a concealed handgun must apply for the proper license; if you purchase a gun from a dealer in Washington, you will usually need to apply for a concealed carry permit.

To qualify for a concealed carry permit, you must be at least 21 years old with no pending charges, outstanding warrants, felony convictions, or court orders prohibiting you from purchasing a firearm. You must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you must not have a history of controlled substance abuse or mental health issues. Once issued, you must carry your permit with you at all times.

Washington does not have any laws prohibiting open carry, which involves carrying a firearm without concealing the fact that it is a gun. You can carry a handgun in the open without a permit or license in Washington. However, if you carry your firearm in your vehicle or while taking public transportation, you will need a concealed carry permit.

Consequences for Violating Gun Laws

Unlawful possession of a firearm is a Class B felony in Washington. If you receive a conviction for this charge, you can face up to 10 years in prison, as well as a possible fine up to $20,000. Carrying a concealed weapon without a permit is a misdemeanor, and you can face up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000 for this crime.

Firearm-related charges can be difficult to handle alone. If you are facing charges for violating a Washington gun law, contact a Tacoma criminal defense lawyer.

Hiring an attorney is an important investment in your future. You need an advocate on your side who will explain the criminal justice process to you and craft a defense to help you reach the best possible outcome. In addition, Washington gun laws can be confusing — your attorney will walk you through each step so you fully understand your legal rights.

Speak to your defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest to strategize your next steps.

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