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What are the Gun Laws in Washington?

A Synopsis of State Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms


As of May, 2005

State Requirements

Rifles and Shotguns
  • Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Registration of rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No.
  • Permit to purchase handgun? No.*
  • Registration of handguns? No.*
  • Licensing of owners of handguns? No.*
  • Permit to carry handguns? Yes.

*Police record is made of purchases from dealers.

Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change.


There are no state licensing requirements for the purchase of rifles or shotguns.

The purchaser of a pistol must sign in triplicate and deliver to the dealer an application containing:

  • His or her full name, street address, date and place of birth, race, and gender.

  • Date and hour of application.

  • Driver’s or state identification number.

  • A description of the pistol including the make, model, caliber and manufacturer’s number; and a statement that the purchaser is eligible to possess a pistol.

The dealer shall deliver the pistol to the purchaser following the elapse of five business days from the receipt of the application for purchase.

This period shall be 60 days if the purchaser lacks a Washington driver’s license or state identification card or has not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive 90 days.

There is no waiting period where the applicant has a valid license to carry a pistol concealed.

The dealer shall not deliver the pistol if he is notified in writing by the police chief or sheriff denying the purchaser’s application to purchase and the reasons for the denial.

The police chief or sheriff may obtain a 30 day extension of the waiting period if reasonable grounds exist based on the presence of open or pending criminal charges, outstanding felony warrant, record of arrest lacking a deposition of the charges which may cast doubt on the applicant’s right to possess a pistol, or pending mental commitment proceedings.

A court may extend this 30 day extension further for good cause shown.

A license shall be issued, unless the applicant is ineligible to possess a pistol.

The state of Washington preempts all cities, towns and other political subdivisions from requiring a purchaser to have a permit to purchase or from requiring a dealer to secure a permit from each sale.


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.

  • 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.

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