Understanding Guns Laws in Washington
by Lewis & Laws
Understanding Guns Laws in Washington
How Strict are Gun Laws in Washington?
Interestingly, while the state of Washington does have a strict gun law, the law only applies to hunters. In other words, if you want to hike into the woods and shoot an animal, you are required to take a mandatory, two-part course in how to properly handle a gun—10 hours of “hunter education,” on gun safety and gun handling techniques. Following the ten-hour course, you must go to a local gun club, and repeatedly prove to an instructor that you are proficient at loading, firing and storing your firearm. If, during your course and subsequent test, you make a mistake—like pointing a firearm at another human being, you can be denied certification.
What about Gun Laws for Non-Hunters in Washington?
On the flip side, if you want to take your firearm to the city or the suburbs—or really anywhere—you are not required to have any knowledge whatsoever about gun safety. There is no one to judge your technique, your ability to be safe with a firearm, and no one to judge your attitude about gun safety and ownership.
At least twenty-five states have a gun-literacy requirement to obtain a permit to tote a gun around, and eight states require at least a bit of training before you can purchase a gun. Unless you plan on going hunting for animals, however, Washington state allows you to buy a gun or qualify for a permit in mere minutes, even if you have never before held a loaded gun.
Facts about Gun Crimes and Laws in Washington
In 2015, Washington had the 14th lowest number of gun deaths per capita, and the 17th lowest rate of crime gun exports (a gun originally sold in Washington then used for a crime was later recovered after being used for a crime in a another state). Some facts about guns in the state include:
- To transfer a firearm between private parties, a background check is required.
- All firearms dealers must have a state-issued license and a background check to sell firearms or to transfer ammunition.
- All employees of firearms dealers must undergo a background check.
- Those with a domestic violence misdemeanor on their record, or those currently under an order of protection, are prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
- The transfer or possession of assault weapons, large-capacity ammunition magazines and/or 50 caliber rifles is not prohibited in Washington state, however the sale of machine guns and “sawed-off” shotguns is prohibited.
- Firearm owners are not required to be licensed.
- Firearms are not required to be registered.
- There is no limit to the number of firearms purchased at one time.
- There is no waiting period on the purchase of firearms, other than handguns, and there is a five-day waiting period to purchase a pistol.
- A person purchasing a handgun must provide his or her name, address, DL number, race and gender, as well as provide a statement asserting he or she is eligible to be in possession of a handgun.
- Non-residents of the state could be required to wait 60 days for a handgun if they have not been a resident for at least three months.
- Those with a history of felony convictions or those who are not legal citizens of the U.S. may be disqualified from purchasing a firearm.
- Unsafe handguns are not regulated.
- The sale of ammunition is not significantly regulated.
- Local governments in the state have little authority as far as regulating ammunition and firearms.
- If a person meets basic qualifications, local law enforcement is required to issue that person a concealed handgun license.
- A person is legally allowed to open-carry in the state of Washington any place it is legal to possess a loaded handgun so long as that open carry does not come with an intent to intimidate another person. Open-carry in a vehicle requires a valid concealed carry license.
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