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Washington Gun Laws

Thursday, April 13, 2017


“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.” 

Gun Laws Overview

Permit to Purchase No No*
Registration of Firearms No No*
Licensing of Owners No No*
Permit to Carry No Yes

* Police record is made of purchases from dealers.

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition. For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL. 

RECIPROCITY NOTES: Washington’s reciprocity law requires that the other state not issue licenses to persons under age 21. Washington honors only the ENHANCED permit for Idaho and the CLASS 1 permit for North Dakota: http://www.atg.wa.gov/concealed-weapon-reciprocity. Michigan recognizes Washington’s RESIDENT permit only. 


Castle Doctrine No Law
No-Net Loss No Legislation
Right to Carry Confidentiality Provisions Enacted
Right to Carry in Restaurants Partial Ban
Right To Carry Laws Shall Issue
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Conditional Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions With Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Select Map
Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile


Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms


Washington State has no law requiring a purchaser of a rifle or shotgun to first obtain a license or permit, and state law prohibits any local government from requiring a purchaser to obtain a permit to purchase, or requiring a dealer to secure an individual permit for each sale. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.110(12).  Pistol sales are subject to specific requirements. Washington State regulates private sales and “transfers” of firearms.


Regarding pistol sales, no dealer may deliver a pistol unless the purchaser produces a valid concealed pistol license or undergoes the background check process under state law, or the dealer is notified by the chief of police or the sheriff of the jurisdiction in which the purchaser resides that the purchaser is eligible to possess a pistol and that the application to purchase is approved. The background check process requires the dealer to wait until the result of the required background check is known or ten business days elapse from the date a background check was requested, whichever occurs first (but if the purchaser does not have a valid permanent Washington State driver’s license or state ID, or has not been a Washington resident for the previous consecutive 90 days, the applicable time period expands to 60 days instead of ten business days). Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.090(1) and 9.41.092.

The police chief or sheriff may obtain a 30-day “hold” on the sale and delivery of a pistol if reasonable grounds exist based on the purchaser’s open or pending criminal charges, a pending mental health commitment proceeding, or an outstanding warrant or arrest for an offense which may make the purchaser ineligible to possess a pistol under state law. A court may extend this 30-day hold period for “good cause.” Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(4).

A person seeking to purchase a pistol must fill out an application form in triplicate, listing personal information along with a description of the gun, including the make, model, caliber and manufacturer’s number. The purchaser must be given a department of fish and wildlife pamphlet on the legal limits of the use of firearms, firearms safety, and the fact that local laws and ordinances on firearms are preempted by state law and must be consistent with state law. The dealer must, by the end of the business day, sign and attach his or her address and deliver a copy of the application form to the chief of police or the sheriff in the jurisdiction where the purchaser is a resident. The dealer must retain his or her copy of this form for six years. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(5).

The application to purchase shall not be denied unless the purchaser is ineligible to possess a pistol under state or federal law.

A firearm dealer is required to be licensed by the state. Washington State requires all dealers who sell or intend to sell or otherwise transfer any firearm or ammunition to be licensed by the state. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.110(1)-(3).

Washington State law requires that private sales and “transfers” of firearms (those that don’t involve a federally licensed dealer as a party to the transaction) be “completed” through a licensed dealer. “Transfer” means more than just a transaction in which the ownership of a gun changes – it includes loans and other temporary changes in possession (“transfer” is defined as “the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans”). Unless the sale or “transfer” falls within one of the specific exceptions listed in the law, the transaction must be made using a federally licensed firearms dealer, who must conduct a background check and follow all other state and federal requirements that would apply if the dealer was “selling or transferring the firearm from its inventory.” The dealer is authorized to charge a fee “that reflects the fair market value of the administrative costs and efforts incurred” for facilitating the sale or transfer. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.113(1)-(3), 9.41.010(25).

The exceptions in this law include:

  • “transfers” and sales of “antique” guns, as defined,
  • “bona fide” gifts and loans (but not sales) between specified “immediate family” members, and temporary transfers between spouses or domestic partners, 
  • “transfers” to a federally licensed gunsmith if he or she “receives a gun solely for the purposes of service or repair,” and the return of the gun to its owner by the gunsmith,
  • a temporary transfer that occurs “at an established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located,” but only if the gun is kept at that range “at all times.” “Established shooting range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction” is not defined.
  • transfers that occur while hunting if the recipient possesses the gun only in places where hunting is legal, has completed all training and has all licenses or permits required for such hunting, and is not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law,
  • executors and administrators of estates who acquire a gun through the operation of law, upon the death of the former owner. If the gun is a handgun, special rules apply.   

These and the other exceptions to the law found at Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.113 are specific and narrow in scope. 

The private sale and transfer law applies to sales and “transfers” when any part of the transaction takes place in Washington State. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.122. The penalty for non-compliance with the sale and transfer law is a gross misdemeanor, but a second or subsequent violation is a class C felony – and in this context, a person is guilty of a separate offense for each and every gun sold or transferred without complying with the sale and transfer requirements. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.115. A person who delivers a firearm to any person whom he or she has reasonable cause to believe is ineligible under state law to possess a firearm commits a class C felony; Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.080.

Washington State has no laws regulating sales or purchases of multiple guns or regulating gun shows.


There are no state licensing requirements for the possession of rifles, shotguns or handguns.


It is unlawful to own, possess or have in control any firearm by:

  • a person convicted, or as a juvenile adjudicated, of a felony, serious offense, domestic violence offense if committed after July 1, 1993 (those being: assault in 4th degree, coercion, stalking, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass in 1st degree, violating a protective order and/or violating a restraining order),
  • who is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentence for a serious offense, acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity, or who has ever been committed by a court due to mental illness, or
  • if the individual is under the age of 18.

In some circumstances, “convicted” may include a dismissal entered after a period of probation, suspension or deferral.

Persons under age 18 may possess a rifle or shotgun only if they have a valid hunter’s safety certificate and are over age 14, or are under the supervision of a parent or guardian or another person authorized by the parent or guardian. 

Persons under age 18 may also posses any legal firearm while hunting or trapping with a valid license, participating in lawful target shooting or organized competition, attending a hunter safety or firearms training course, or are traveling to or from such activity with an unloaded and inaccessible firearm.

It is a felony for any person who is not a citizen of the United States to carry or possess any firearm, without first having obtained an alien firearm license from the director of licensing; the director may issue a license upon the certificate of the consul within the state who represents the alien’s country, stating that said alien is a responsible person and upon the payment of a $55.00 fee, plus additional charges imposed by the FBI. An alien license is valid for 5 years. This does not apply to Canadian citizens residing in a province which has an enactment or public policy providing substantially similar privilege to residents of the state of Washington and who are carrying or possessing weapons for the purpose of using them in the hunting of game while such persons are in the act of hunting, or while on a hunting trip, or while such persons are competing in a bona fide trap or skeet shoot or any other organized contest where rifles, pistols, or shotguns are used.


A person shall not carry a pistol concealed on his person without a license to carry a concealed weapon. A person may carry concealed without a license in his place of abode or fixed place of business.


A person at least 18 years old who is in possession of an unloaded pistol shall not leave it in a vehicle unless the unloaded pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless he has a license to carry a concealed weapon and the pistol is on his person, or the person with the concealed carrying license is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or the person with the concealed carrying license is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

The prohibition against carrying concealed without a license does not apply to law enforcement personnel and prison or jail wardens or their deputies; military personnel when on duty; regularly enrolled members of any organization authorized to purchase or receive pistols from the U.S. and regularly enrolled members of target shooting or collectors’ clubs and any person engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity, provided such persons are at or going to or from such activities; gun dealers in the usual or ordinary course of their business; carrying unloaded and in a closed opaque case or secure wrapper; and qualified retired law enforcement officers.

Application for a license to carry a pistol concealed on the person for protection, business, sport or travel may be made to a police chief or sheriff where you reside, or anywhere in the state for a non-resident. The official shall issue the license within 30 days of application. The license shall be issued within 60 days if the applicant lacks a Washington identification card or driver’s license or has not been a resident of Washington for the previous consecutive 90 days. The issuing authority shall not refuse to accept completed applications for concealed pistol licenses during regular business hours. The right to have the license shall not be denied unless the applicant:

  • is ineligible to own or posses a pistol.
  • is under 21 years of age.
  • is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony.
  • has an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony or misdemeanor.
  • is subject to a restraining order or domestic violence action requiring the surrender of a deadly weapon.

The applicant must submit to fingerprinting. The license is valid for five years. The fee for an original license is $36, plus additional FBI charges. The renewal fee is $32.00. No other additional charges by any branch or unit of government shall be borne by the applicant for the issuance or renewal of the license. A political subdivision shall not modify these requirements.

It is unlawful for a person to carry onto, or to possess, on public or private elementary or secondary school premises, school-provided transportation, or areas of facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools any firearm or any air gun, including any air pistol or air rifle, designed to propel a BB, pellet, or other projectile by the discharge of compressed air, carbon dioxide or other gas.  Those licensed to carry a concealed weapon may carry a firearm while picking up or dropping off a student on school premises.

It is unlawful to carry, transport, convey, possess or control in or on a motor vehicle a shotgun or rifle containing shells or cartridges in the magazine or chamber, or a muzzle-loading firearm loaded and capped or primed.

While knowingly in possession or control of a firearm, it is illegal to enter any portion of any establishment declared off-limits to persons below 21 years of age; commercial service airport, or the restricted portion of a jail or law enforcement facility; areas of buildings used for court proceedings; restricted areas of mental health facilities, except that restricted access portions of a jail or law enforcement facility shall not include entrances or exits, or areas open to public access.

Antiques and Replicas

Regulations regarding the carrying of firearms do not apply to antique firearms which are firearms or replicas of firearms not designed or redesigned for using rim fire or conventional center fire ignition with fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898, including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the U. S. and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade, if the person carrying the antique firearm is regularly enrolled as a  member of club(s) organized for the purposes of modern and antique firearm collecting, when the individual is going to or from collector’s gun shows and exhibits.

Machine Guns

It is unlawful to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, or any part thereof capable of use or assembling or repairing any machine gun.


Exempt are peace officers and members of the military when on duty, and persons complying with federal law who possess a National Firearms Tax Stamp authorizing possession and who produce, manufacture, or test machine guns.

A machine gun is defined as any weapon mechanism or instrument not requiring that the trigger be pressed for each shot and having an ammunition storage or feeding device which can be loaded into such weapon, mechanism or instrument and fired at the rate of five or more shots per second.


The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms.


WASH. REV. CODE ANN. §9.41.290 (2011)

§  9.41.290. State preemption

   The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.  

Range Protection

As of this date, there was no law in effect to protect shooting ranges.


It is unlawful to change, alter, remove, or obliterate the name of the maker, model, manufacturer’s number, or other mark of identification on any firearm. Possession of a firearm with its marks altered creates a legal presumption that the possessor committed the offense.


It is unlawful to set a spring gun, but this does not preclude the setting of “coyote getters” authorized by the state department of agriculture or the state department of game.

It is unlawful to carry, exhibit, display or draw any firearm in such a way as to manifest an intent to intimidate another.  This does not apply to persons in their own home or place of business or to instances of self-defense or acting in furtherance of one’s official duties.

It is unlawful to shoot any handgun, rifle or shotgun across or along any public highway.  

During a state of emergency, the governor may forbid the possession of firearms outside the home or place of business.

Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state gun laws shall not be enacted.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.