Open Carrying in Washington

Posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Washington prohibits any person from carrying, exhibiting, displaying or drawing any firearm or other weapon “apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner…that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”1 Any person violating this law is criminally liable for a gross misdemeanor and the loss of his or her concealed pistol license, if any. Exceptions include:

  • Persons acting by virtue of their office or public employment who are vested by law with a duty to preserve public safety or order;
  • Any person making or assisting in making a lawful arrest for the commission of a felony;
  • Any person engaged in military activities;
  • Persons acting in self-defense or in defense of another; or
  • Any act committed by a person while in his or her place of abode or fixed place of business.2

See our Open Carrying of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.270. []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.270(3). []

2013 State Firearms Legislation Overview

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

In 2013, state legislators across the country responded to the Newtown tragedy by introducing legislation to strengthen firearms laws. In the first two months of the year, the total number of bills to strengthen firearms restrictions went up 231% compared to the same two-month period in 2012. In contrast, introduction of gun lobby bills increased by only 67% during this time period. The momentum led to crucial changes in the way the states regulate firearms.

Eight states made major changes that strengthened firearms laws. An additional thirteen states enacted laws that strengthened firearms laws in a more minor, but still significant manner.  Overall, 52 new laws were enacted in 21 states to strengthen firearms laws.

Four states strengthened existing assault weapon bans, five added or strengthened existing bans on large capacity ammunition magazines, and five states have added new laws requiring background checks for private sales of firearms. Four states added a requirement that owners report lost or stolen firearms to police, and three enacted laws imposing record-keeping and/or background check requirements for ammunition sales.

The gun lobby successes, though similar in number, were much less substantial. Fifty new laws were enacted in twenty states to weaken firearms laws. Of these, only three made major changes. The majority of the laws expanded areas where guns may be carried in public. Illinois now allows individuals to carry concealed weapons in public with a permit. Seven states enacted laws allowing employees and, in some cases, average citizens, to carry firearms in K-12 schools. Other states made it easier to carry a firearm on a university or college campus, in bars, and in houses of worship. In addition, one state became a “shoot first/stand your ground” state and in another, voters will be asked to decide whether to amend the state constitution to require courts to use strict scrutiny to evaluate firearms laws.

In addition, 22 laws were enacted in 17 states that will have a minimal impact on gun violence. Included in this category are bills that would have a neutral or minimal impact on gun violence prevention if they were enacted. For example, bills declaring that federal firearms laws do not apply to guns manufactured and kept in the state are included in this category because they are unconstitutional and unenforceable. Other bills, such as bills that make concealed carry permit records confidential, are included because they would not significantly impact gun violence prevention if enacted.

Overall, states made great strides toward stronger regulation of firearms. The progress made in 2013 will greatly impact public safety in the states where new laws were enacted and will undoubtedly contribute to the momentum that continues to grow across the country for smart gun laws.

New 2013 Laws that Strengthen Gun Violence Prevention

AL S 133

Strengthens requirements regarding sending mental health records to NICS and require petition for relief of disability due to mental health issue to be directed to circuit court rather than probate.

CA S 140

Provides funding to the Department of Justice to address the backlog in the Armed Prohibited Persons System.

CA A  48

Bans “conversion kits” that create large capacity ammunition magazines

CA A 170

Prevents corporations, partnerships, and other organizational “persons” from receiving a permit to own an assault weapon.

CA A 231

Expands child access prevention law to cover anytime a weapon is left in a place where a child may gain access to it.

CA A 500

Requires safe storage of firearms for people living with prohibited persons.  Allows DOJ to obtain an additional 30 days to conduct a background check when the ordinary 10 day period is insufficient.

CA A 539

Allows prohibited people to transfer their firearms to a firearms dealer to hold for them until they become eligible to possess a firearm again.

CA A 1131

Extends the prohibition on owning a firearm for persons who have made specific credible threats to a psychotherapist from six months to five years.  Makes reporting of such threats to DOJ electronic.

CA S 363

Holds firearm owners liable for leaving guns where a prohibited person is likely to gain access if such a person does gain access and takes the gun into a public place or harms someone with it.

CA S 683

Requires all gun purchasers to obtain a firearm safety certificate (previously handguns only).

CA S 127

Requires electronic reporting of credible threats against specific people to DOJ.

CO H 1224

Bans sale, transfer and possession of LCAM’s.

CO H 1229

Requires background checks for private sales and mental health reporting to NICS.

CO S 195

Prohibits online training for CCW permit applicants.

CO S 197

Provides mechanisms to help disarm domestic violence perpetrators.

CT H 6702

Strengthens law requiring subjects of restraining orders to surrender firearms.

CT S 1160

Strengthens assault weapon ban, bans LCAMs, creates gun offender registry, requires permit for long guns and ammunition purchase (note CT S 1094 provides amendments).

DC B 888

Expands prohibition on certain types of ammunition.

DE H 35

Requires background checks for private sales of firearms.

DE S 16

Requires any owner of a firearm to report the loss or theft of the firearm within 7 days after the discovery of the loss or theft to either local law enforcement or the state police.

FL H 1355

Expands mental health prohibitions and reporting of records.

HI S 69

Requires all gun registration applicants to be fingerprinted.

IL H 183

Prohibits firearm possession by the subject of an ex parte order of protection (prior law only prohibited possession for an order of protection issued after a hearing). [This law also contains a weakening provision summarized in the chart below.]

IL H 1189

Requires private firearms sellers to use the State Police’s dial-up system to verify that the buyer is the holder of a valid FOID card before making a transfer; requires owners of firearms to report loss or theft of firearms.

LA H 717/S135

Strengthens laws requiring reporting of certain prohibited persons to state supreme court and NICS and provides process for relief from disabilities.

MD S 281

Strengthens assault weapon ban, bans LCAMs, provides a mechanism to remove firearms from unstable individuals, regulates ammunition possession, requires a handgun license, requires registration for new residents, and requires lost or stolen firearm reporting

MN S 671

Requires submission of records regarding prohibited persons to NICS.

MS S 2647

Facilitates the reporting of certain information to the FBI solely for the purpose of inclusion in the NICS database and allow prohibited individuals to petition for relief from mental health disability.

ND H 1327

Requires a NICS check to be completed on CCW permit applicants. [This law also contains a weakening provision summarized in the chart below.]

NJ A 3687

Disqualifies any person named on the federal Terrorist Watchlist from purchasing a firearm.

NJ A 3717

Requires submission of certain mental health records to NICS.

NY S 2230

Imposes numerous provisions to: strengthen the assault weapons and LCAM bans; provide a mechanism to remove firearms from unstable individuals, close private sale loophole, require lost and stolen reporting, require safe storage and regulate ammunition sales.

RI H 5286/
RI S 455

Makes it unlawful for any person to receive, transport or possess any firearm which has had any maker, model, manufacturer’s number or other mark of identification removed, altered, or obliterated,

RI H 5992/
RI S 862

Creates a Behavioral Health and Firearms Safety Task Force to review, and make recommendations for, statutes relating to firearms and behavioral health issues.

SC H 3560

Strengthens prohibitions on firearm possession by dangerously mentally ill, requires submission of records to NICS and cross-checking of mental health adjudications with CCW permittees for purposes of disarming prohibited persons.

TN S 789

Requires courts to submit mental health adjudication information to NICS.

TX S 1189

Provides that a police officer taking a person into custody because he or she is mentally ill and poses a serious risk of harm to self or others may immediately seize a firearm in the person’s possession. Provides a procedure for return or other disposition of the firearm.

TX H 48

Authorizes an investigation of a CCW license holder to determine his or her continued eligibility for a license and repeals the requirement that a CCW license holder complete a course in continuing education prior to renewing a license.

UT H 50

Allows a court to prohibit the subject of a dating relationship protective order from possessing firearms.

UT H 121

Authorizes a cohabitant who owns a firearm to voluntarily commit the firearm to law enforcement for 60 days if the cohabitant believes another cohabitant is an immediate threat.

WA H 1612

Creates a gun offender registry.

WA S 5282

Creates a statewide database of mental health information, and require the submission of mental health commitment records to the state.

 

New 2013 Laws that Weaken Gun Violence Prevention

AK H 24

Removes the duty to retreat in any place a person has a right to be.

AL H 8

Proposes an amendment to the right to bear arms provision in the state constitution requiring that any firearms law be subject to strict scrutiny.

AL H 404

Authorizes the formation of volunteer emergency security forces at public schools in the county consisting of current and retired school employees and local citizens.


AL S 286

Removes discretion from CCW permit issuing authorities making AL a “shall issue” state. Clarifies preemption language and allow lawsuits against local governments, amends CCW permit eligibility requirements, expands where CCW permit holders may carry, requires state and local entities to allow storage of firearms on public property, prohibits an employer from inquiring about firearms in vehicles, prohibits a property owner from restricting firearms in parking areas, and repeals the prohibition against the possession of a firearm at a public demonstration.

AL S 383

Authorizes each local board of education to allow persons employed as school security personnel or school resource officers to carry firearms while on duty.

AR S 71

Allows guns in houses of worship if permitted by the head of the house of worship.

AR S 170

Allows a pregnant woman to use deadly force to protect her unborn child, with no duty to retreat unless the pregnant woman knows she can avoid the necessity of using deadly physical force and simultaneously ensure the complete safety of her unborn child.

AR S 858

Provides automatic reciprocity with all other state CCW permits.

AR S 896

Allows guns in K-12 schools run by a house of worship.

AR H 1243

Allows staff and faculty to carry on university, college, or community college campuses.

AR H 1700

Allows guns in bars and other areas.

AR H 2025

Allows CCW permit holders who are employed in a liquor store to possess a firearm in the store.

AZ H 2455

Prohibits destruction of firearm by a government entity as part of a buyback.

ID H 183

Clarifies that local governments may not regulate the carrying of concealed weapons.

IL H 183

Allow carrying concealed handguns in public with a permit. [This law also contains a strengthening provision summarized in the chart above.]

IN H 1006

Adds knowing and intentional element to crime of an unlicensed person selling a handgun, crimes involving machine guns, and possessing a firearm while boarding an aircraft or while on the grounds of a school or on a school bus.

IN S 1

Allows firearms to be carried at K-12 schools by a person who has been authorized to do so by the school board.

KS H 2052

Allows K-12 schools, universities and community colleges to authorize employees to carry firearms in school buildings; makes CCW records confidential, allows CCW permit holders to carry in any building that does not provide adequate notice, as specified, that firearms are prohibited.

KS H 2162

Prohibits any state government money from being used to publicize “gun control” issues or to fund a grant recipient or contractor for activities related to lobbying on the issue of gun control.

KS S 21

Provides automatic CCW permit reciprocity with all other states.

MI S 60

Exempts all FFL’s (instead of only class 01 FFL’s) from handgun purchase permit requirement.

MO H 533

Prohibits the state from restricting a state employee from having a firearm in the employee’s vehicle on the state’s property provided and imposes restrictions on local gun buyback programs.

MO S 75

Requires that all records regarding firearms possession, ownership or carrying be kept confidential. Requires sheriffs to issue CCW permits (instead of a certificate of qualification for a CCW permit), extends the duration of CCW permits, and requires background checks prior to issuance of CCW permits

MO S 252

Prohibits any state agency or department from constructing, providing or sharing records, maintaining, participating in, or developing, or cooperating with the federal government in developing, a database or record of the number or type of firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories that an individual possesses.

MS H 2

Allows carrying a loaded or unloaded weapon in public without a permit if carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible. 

MT H 459

Prohibits medical providers from conditioning provision of medical care on requirement that patients answer questions about gun ownership.

NC H 937

Allows firearms in bars, assemblies, vehicles in state government parking areas and vehicles on educational property (including k-12 and university and college campuses); allows employee who resides on grounds of an institution of higher education to possess a firearm in residence; further restricts local authority to regulate firearms, strengthens law against permitting children to use firearms; requires submission of mental health records to NICS.

ND H 1241

Repeals the prohibition against carrying a firearm in a gaming site (except those primarily used for bingo) and would allow firearms in areas of restaurants that are not restricted by age.

ND H 1283

Allows CCW permit holder to carry in house of worship with permission.

ND H 1327

Expands preemption of local law. [This law also contains a strengthening provision summarized in the chart above.]

OK H 1243

Amends the CCW permit eligibility requirements so that the preclusive period for certain violations is shortened.

OK H 1622

Allows the carrying of a concealed or unconcealed handgun in a private school or on a private school bus, provided that the school has adopted a policy to allow it and allows firearms at government meetings.

OK S 173

Provides immunity from liability for any person, business, or employer who does not prohibit the carrying of firearms on their property, for any harm resulting from failing to prohibit firearms there and provides for a temporary CCW permit for a victim listed in a domestic violence protection order.

OK S 977

Provides automatic reciprocity for all out-of-state open carry permits.

SD H 1087

Provides that any school board may allow the arming of school employees, hired security personnel, or volunteers, after obtaining the consent of the law enforcement officer who has jurisdiction over the school.

SD S 166

Provides that a concealed carry permit is valid for 5 years, instead of four years as under current law.

TN H 6

Allows K-12 school personnel to possess a firearm on school property if the person has a CCW permit and is authorized by the school superintendent.


TN S 142

Allows person with a valid handgun carry permit to transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the permit holder’s privately-owned motor vehicle in any public or private parking area.

TN S 714

Limits the 10-year period that a person must wait between exiting a drug or alcohol program or hospital before being eligible for a handgun carry permit to three years if the applicant entered rehab voluntarily.

TX H 798

Eliminates certain misdemeanors as disqualifying factors for a CCW permit.

TX H 3142

Removes the requirement that CCW permit applicants obtain safety training with the same type of handgun he or she intends to carry.

TX S 864

Weakens handgun safety training requirements for applicants for first-time and renewal CCW permits.

TX S 987

Authorizes the attorney general to bring an action to obtain a temporary or permanent injunction against a local government that adopts a firearms or ammunition regulation.

TX S 1400

Preempts local regulation of air guns.

TX S 1907

Prohibits an institution of higher education from prohibiting a student who is a CCW permit holder from transporting or storing a handgun or ammunition in a locked, privately owned motor vehicle on a street, driveway or parking area located on the campus.

 UT H 28

Specifies that the carrying or possession of a firearm on the campus of a state institution of higher education does not warrant an order to leave the property.

UT H 317

Prohibits the state or a political subdivision from compelling a CCW permit holder to divulge whether he or she has a CCW permit or is carrying a concealed firearm.

WV H 2431

Makes CCW permit holders exempt from background checks, clarifies mental health requirements and makes other changes to CCW permit law.

WV S 369

Provides automatic reciprocity with CCW permits from all other states.

WY H 216

Allows a judge to carry a weapon in his courtroom or determine that someone else may carry a weapon in his or her courtroom.

 

New 2013 Minimal Impact Laws

AK H 69

Amends existing law that seeks to nullify the application of federal firearms law in the state.

AR S 131

Prohibits the release of records related to CCW holders and applicants to the public.

AZ H 2326

Expands prohibition against keeping records of gun possession and purchase.

KS S 81

Makes CCW permit information confidential.

KS S 102

Seeks to nullify federal law.

KY S 150

Removes the six-month residency requirement for CCW permit applicants.

LA H 8

Makes CCW permit records confidential.

LA H 98

Authorizes the sheriff of a parish to issue a concealed handgun permit. The permit would only be valid within the boundaries of the parish, unless the sheriff has entered into a reciprocity agreement with a sheriff of a different parish. Would prohibit the dissemination of personal information of applicants.

LA H 265

Provides for the issuance of a lifetime concealed handgun permit.

LA H 277

Repeals state machine gun regulations and refers instead to federal law regulating machine guns.

ME H 250

Makes CCW permit records confidential.

MN H 5

Provides that the state health benefit exchange may not collect information that indicates whether or not an individual owns a gun or has a firearm in the individual’s home.

MS H 485

Makes CCW permit records confidential.

MT S 145

Makes information about CCW permit holders confidential.

NJ A 3788

Makes CCW permit records confidential.

NV S 76

Removes the distinction currently made on CCW permits between revolvers and semi-automatics and instead provide that a CCW permit applies to all handguns.

SD S 227

Allows firearms to be carried on a snowmobile by any CCW permit holder on his or her own land.

TN H 9

Makes CCW permit records confidential.

TX H 2407

Provides that a person whose guardianship has been terminated may petition for restoration of his or her firearm rights.

TX H 1349

Provides that a CCW permit applicant may not be required to provide his/her social security number as part of an application.

UT S 80

Provides a system to allow individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms for mental health reasons to petition for relief from the disability.

VA S 1335

Makes CCW permit records confidential.

 


2014 State Firearms Legislation Overview

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

There were numerous, important victories in gun violence prevention legislation in 2014. Massachusetts and Washington became the ninth and tenth states to enact a major, substantive gun violence prevention law since Newtown. Among several other improvements, the Massachusetts law gives law enforcement an opportunity to object when a dangerous person applies for a long gun permit and requires private sellers to verify the validity of a purchaser’s license via a web portal that will access state records. The Washington law, enacted via ballot initiative, closed the private sale loophole by requiring that private firearms sales be conducted by a licensed dealer.

In California, a groundbreaking law was enacted that allows law enforcement and family members to petition for a Gun Violence Restraining Order. The order would disarm dangerous individuals and prohibit them from purchasing or possessing firearms.  In addition, seven states enacted laws to restrict access to firearms by domestic violence perpetrators.  Overall, 37 states have enacted 99 laws strengthening firearms restrictions since Newtown.

In 2014, the gun lobby had limited but significant victories. Missouri and Alabama voters approved amendments to the right to bear arms provisions of their state constitutions to require that courts use strict scrutiny when reviewing challenges to firearms laws. The gun lobby also succeeded in a guns on campus bill in Alaska. In addition, the NRA’s top priority bill in Georgia – the “guns everywhere” bill –was enacted but only after it was watered down due to intense opposition by state activists and national groups. The final version allows CCW permit holders to carry in bars and airports and restricts law enforcement’s authority to question a person carrying a firearm in public.

2014 Laws That Strengthened Gun Violence Prevention

AK H 366

This law requires the court and Department of Health and Social Services to transmit records of an individual’s involuntary mental health commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

AL S 108

This law states that an expungement order shall not entitle an individual to ship, transport, possess, or receive a firearm.

AZ H 2322

This law authorizes information about criminal offenses and mental health adjudications to be transmitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and prohibits people adjudicated incompetent from possessing a firearm.

CA  A 1014

This law establishes a procedure to allow concerned family members or law enforcement officers to petition a court for a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO). If a judge determines that an individual poses a danger to self or others, the GVRO would temporarily limit the individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition and would allow law enforcement to remove any firearms or ammunition already in his or her possession.

CA A 1591

This law changes the requirement that when a person becomes a prohibited person due to certain types of mental adjudications, the court forwards records to law enforcement within 1 court day instead of 2 court days.

CA A 1609

This law would require all firearms purchased outside of California by California residents intending to possess those firearms in California to be shipped to a licensed dealer in California in order to complete the transaction.  The California dealer making the transfer would have to comply with all California requirements.

CA A 1964

This law closes a loophole by clarifying that the unsafe handgun law applies to semi-automatic pistols that have been temporarily or permanently altered so that they will not fire in a semi-automatic mode.

CA A 2310

This law extends a pilot program that allows city prosecutors or city attorneys to bring unlawful detainer actions against tenants to abate a nuisance caused by illegal conduct involving unlawful weapons or ammunition. 

CA S 199

This law adds BB devices and air guns to the definition of imitation guns and requires the entire exterior of the device to be brightly colored or made of transparent or translucent materials which permit observation of the device’s complete contents. 

CA S 396

This law requires that an ammunition magazine body be only of sufficient length to accommodate no more than 10 rounds of ammunition and the internal working parts of the magazine.

CA S 505

This law requires development of a policy that encourages peace officers, prior to conducting a welfare check, and whenever possible and reasonable, to conduct a search of the Department of Justice Automated Firearms System to determine whether the person is the owner of any firearms.

DE H 225

This law creates criminal penalties for a person is prohibited due to a violent felony conviction who negligently causes great bodily injury or death using a firearm.

FL H 7051

This law states that people seeking to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm may not refuse to acknowledge convictions that have previously been sealed for the purposes of obtaining the license.

FL H 989

This law states that if a person is adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity or is found to be incompetent to stand trial for any such charge, the expunction of the criminal history record may not prevent the entry of the judgment or finding in state and national databases for use in determining eligibility to purchase or possess a firearm or to carry a concealed firearm.

GA H 773

This law makes it a crime to discharge a gun or pistol near a public highway except as otherwise allowable by law.

HI H 1926

This law establishes mandatory minimum sentences for possession of firearms by prohibited people.

HI H 2246

This law requires courts to provide information relating to involuntary civil commitments to state databases and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and to law enforcement.

IL H 4290

This law makes it a misdemeanor for a certified firearms instructor to knowingly provide or offer to provide a false certification that an applicant has completed firearms training.

IN H 1155

This law states that expunction of a crime of domestic violence does not restore a person’s right to possess a firearm. It also removes a provision of existing law that states that expunction of a conviction allows a person to possess a firearm if not prohibited by federal law.

LA H 1066

This law would expand the list of people ineligible to obtain a concealed carry permit and require that the state perform a federal background check on all applicants for a concealed carry permit.

LA H 1142

This law would prohibit a defendant from possessing a firearm for the duration of a Uniform Abuse Prevention Order if one is issued during a bail hearing.

LA H 244

This law states that if property at a public postsecondary education institution is leased to a nonprofit corporation or association for the purpose of holding a fundraising event, the lease may authorize and provide for the auction and sale of firearms at the event. 02.24.14

LA H 272

This law allows parishes and municipalities in addition to New Orleans to conduct gun buy-back programs.

LA H 753

This law prohibits the possession of a firearm or carrying of a concealed weapon by persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse battery. The prohibition expires after 10 years.

MA H 4376

This law strengthens requirements to transmit background check records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, adds domestic violence misdemeanants to the list of prohibited people, requires firearms dealers to conduct background checks on current and prospective employees, prohibits people involuntarily committed for alcohol or substance abuse treatment from obtaining Firearm Identification cards, and requires the state to develop a web portal which private sellers must use to determine the validity of a transferee’s firearms license prior to transfer. The law allows law enforcement to object to the issuance of a long gun license based on the unsuitability of the applicant and to exercise reasonable discretion when issuing a handgun license. The law requires firearms owners to verify that none of their firearms have been lost or stolen when renewing a license and discontinues issuance and renewal of class B licenses.

ME H 1266

This law states that a person who receives a deferred disposition for certain types of domestic violence crimes, the prohibition on firearm possession starts at the beginning of the deferred period.

ME H 1323

This law states that law enforcement officers may seize all firearms and dangerous weapons that they may find in any lawful search for scheduled drugs in which scheduled drugs are found.

MI H 4715

This law prohibits felons from possessing using, transporting, selling, purchasing, carrying, shipping, receiving, or distributing ammunition.

MN H 3238

This law prohibits persons subject to domestic child abuse, domestic violence or stalking restraining orders, and persons convicted of domestic violence, from possessing weapons and strengthens the requirements for disarming domestic abusers.

MO S 745

This law allows the keeping of records of concealed carry applications, provides a process to revoke a holder’s concealed carry permit if the holder becomes a prohibited person, and creates an electronic concealed carry permit database.

NE L 699

This law requires state agencies to electronically report to the Legislature on a biannual basis information about records in the prohibited persons database.

NH S 318

This law, known as "Joshua’s Law", makes domestic violence a distinct criminal violation.

OK H 2840

This law makes it unlawful for any person serving a term of probation for any felony in any state court of the United States or under the jurisdiction of any alternative court program to possess a firearm.

OK S 1845

This law instructs a court to forward a copy of an individual’s commitment order for mental illness to National Instant Criminal Background Check System and the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation.

RI H 7939/
RI S 2774

This law requires information about a person’s civil commitment to be transmitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

SD H 1118

This law states that no one may discharge a firearm on certain highways or rights-of-ways near occupied dwellings, churches, schoolhouses or livestock.

SD H 1229

This law requires that court mental health records are sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

VA H 574

This law states that a person who voluntarily commits him or herself rather than be subjected to involuntary commitment is prohibited from transporting firearms, in addition to the existing prohibition on possessing or purchasing them.

VA H 743

This law provides that records from a commitment hearing for involuntary admission or involuntary outpatient treatment shall be forwarded to the state criminal database and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

VA S 377

This law states that firearm dealers may choose to obtain a verification check from state police to determine whether a pre-owned firearm being transferred from a non-dealer has been reported lost or stolen.

VA S 576

This law provides that records from a commitment hearing for involuntary admission or involuntary outpatient treatment shall be forwarded to the state criminal database and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

VT H 589

This law states that a person shall not carry or possess certain loaded long guns while in or on a vehicle propelled by mechanical power or drawn by a vehicle propelled by mechanical power within the right of way of a public highway.

WA I 594 (ballot initiative)

This law, enacted via ballot initiative, requires unlicensed sellers to conduct firearms sales through licensed firearms dealers who must perform background checks on the potential buyers and keep records of the transactions.

WA H 1840

This law prohibits domestic abusers who are subject to restraining orders from possessing firearms and concealed carry licenses and requires them to surrender those already in their possession if they present a credible threat to an intimate partner or child.

WI A 464

This law would provide notice of a firearm prohibition and a process for surrendering firearms following the granting of certain domestic violence injunctions.

WI A 727

This bill allows a judge to disarm or prohibit a person subject to a domestic violence injunction if the judge determines that the respondent may use a firearm to cause physical harm to another or to endanger public safety. The law allows disclosure of and access to information regarding individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for purposes of background checks.

WV H 4186

This law strengthens concealed carry permit application requirements.

WV S 317

This law prohibits a municipality from regulating concealed weapons carried pursuant to a permit and allows guns in municipal public parking facilities if the vehicle is locked and the firearm is out of view.

WY H 6

This law makes domestic violence a distinct criminal violation.

 

 

2014 Laws that Weakened Gun Violence Prevention

AZ H 2483

This law states that no ordinance or regulation may restrict the lawful discharge of a firearm on private and agricultural land.

CA A 2300

This law changes from 1991 to 1996 the starting year from which firearms owners are cross-referenced with the state criminal database to identify people prohibited from possessing firearms. It also makes a technical correction to the APPS statute.

CA A 2506

This law designates as peace officers any medical technical assistant series employed by the State Department of State Hospitals and allows them to carry firearms while off-duty.

CO S 135

This law repeals a section of Colorado law regulating the purchase and sale of firearms in contiguous states.

FL H 523

This law authorizes approved tax collectors to accept applications for licenses to carry concealed weapons or firearms.

FL H 89

This law adds a threat to use force to the SYG law and allows a person who is engaged in criminal activity to use deadly force if the person is attacked in his or her home, dwelling or vehicle.

GA H 60

This law allows guns in bars, airports and houses of worship, allows use of the shoot first defense by persons not lawfully in possession of a firearm, allows CCW permit applicants who have committed a firearms-related violation to obtain a permit, restricts the ability of law enforcement to determine if a person who is armed in public has a CCW permit. The law also allows guns in public and private schools if the individual has written consent from a school official.

GA H 826

This law removes ‘school function’ from the list of places where a person cannot possess a firearm. It also states that a person may possess a firearm on school property if the school gives the person explicit written consent. It allows licensed individuals to carry a firearm in their cars while in school safety zones.

ID S 1254

This law prohibits public universities and colleges from regulating the possession, carrying or transporting of firearms by people who have an enhanced concealed carry permit.  

ID S 1372

This law states that a student’s educational record shall not include information about gun ownership.

IN S 169

  This law substantially weakens the law prohibiting a person from transferring a handgun to a minor or prohibited person by only requiring that the transferor had actual knowledge of the transferee’s status. It also removes individuals adjudicated a delinquent child for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, drug abusers, and alcohol abusers from the class of prohibited people.

IN S 229

This law removes a provision allowing an ordinance to prohibit an employee’s possession of a firearm or ammunition on school property, property being use for a school function or a school bus. It also prohibits a local unit of government, including a law enforcement agency, from conducting a firearm buyback program using public funds and exempts people other than students, who keep their lawfully-owned firearms locked out of sight in their cars from the prohibition on firearms on school property.

KS H 2578

This law repeals exceptions to the preemption statute that allowed local governments to regulate the open carry of loaded firearms, the carrying of firearms in jails and courthouses, and the manner in which firearms are transported.

LA H 1076

This law prohibits schools from asking students about gun ownership.

LA H 17

This law creates an affirmative defense to the crime of possessing a stolen firearm that the offender had no knowledge that the firearm was stolen.

LA H 325

This law expands the ability of an individual to use force to prevent the individual from illegally entering the person’s dwelling, vehicle or place of business.

LA H 72

This law creates an exception to the crime of possession of a firearm in certain restaurants serving alcohol for concealed permit holders. 01.27.14

LA S 651

This law allows legislators to carry concealed weapons except in the state capitol building.

MI H 4717

This law provides for a procedure for the restoration of rights for certain persons to possess, transport, sell and purchase ammunition.

MO S 656

This law allows concealed carry permit holders to carry openly in public and allows a school district to designate an employee as a protection officer who can carry a concealed firearm. The law also states that no medical professional may be required to ask about firearm ownership but shall not be prevented from doing so if medically indicated and may not use an electronic medical record program that requires, in order to complete and save a medical record, entry of data regarding whether or not a patient owns, has access to, or lives in a home containing, a firearm. The law reduces the minimum age to obtain a concealed carry permit from 21 to 19, prohibits banning possession or transportation of firearms on public housing property and weakens safety training requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit.

MO SJR 36

This law authorized that a proposed amendment to the state constitution be included in the November ballot. The amendment, which was approved by voters, requires that any restriction on the right to bear arms be subject to strict scrutiny.

MS H 314

This law prohibits confiscation of firearms or ammunition in the event of martial law, prohibits public housing authorities from restricting possession of firearms and ammunition, allows a person adversely affected by an preempted ordinance to sue the local government and win damages against an official in his or her personal capacity, prohibits buy-back programs unless the guns are sold back to licensed firearms dealers and limits the ability of a local government to ban firearms on its property.

OK H 2614

This law allows guns to be stored and hidden from view in a vehicle in the parking lot of a public or private elementary school.

OK H 2692

This law extends the grace period on expiring handgun licenses from 30 to 90 days.

OK S 934

This law provides that a parent or legal guardian is not prohibited from providing a firearm to a child for the purpose of safety training and not responsible for giving a child a gun unless he or she is aware that the child is likely to use it to endanger another person.  

OR H 4068

This law states that if a person has been convicted only once of misdemeanor marijuana possession or has completed a drug diversion program for marijuana possession, he or she shall not be prohibited from obtaining a concealed carry permit.

PA H 80

This law provides standing to the NRA and any other membership organization that has a member who may legally possess a firearm.

RI H 7940

This law would eliminate the prohibition against a person who has been adjudicated or is under treatment as a habitual drunkard from owning, purchasing, carrying, transporting or having in his or her possession any firearm.

RI S 2775

This law removes the term "habitual drunkard" from the list of those prohibited from possessing firearms.

SC S 308

This law allows concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms in bars and allows individuals with concealed carry permits to carry their weapons under their seat in a vehicle or in an open container.

SD S 63

This law states no elementary school or secondary school student shall be required to submit to a survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning personal or family gun ownership.

TN H 1483

This law broadens the law allowing a handgun permit holder to transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in certain motor vehicle parking lots by preempting local regulation and voiding any state laws to the contrary.

TN H 1549

This law states that schools may not collect information on student’s firearm ownership.

TN S 1612

This law broadens state preemption of local firearms law to include the whole field of firearms and ammunition regulation with limited exceptions.

TN S 1672

This law extends the duration of concealed carry permits from 4 to 5 years.

UT H 75

This law makes certain individuals convicted of non-violent felonies and individuals whose convictions have been expunged, set aside, or reduced to a misdemeanor, eligible to possess firearms.

VA H 1169

This law allows retired members of the enforcement division of the Department of Motor Vehicles to carry concealed weapons without a permit. 02.18.14

VT H 735

This law would allow the subject of a restraining order to relinquish his or her weapons to an individual, other than a licensed dealer or law officer, pursuant to certain criteria.

WI A 368

This law states that residents may purchase rifles or shotguns from any state, not just contiguous states, so long as the purchase complies with federal and state laws.

WI A 563

This law removes individuals who have been criminally charged and temporarily released from the list of people prohibited from possessing firearms. 02.28.14

 

2014 Laws with a Minimal Impact on Gun Violence Prevention

AZ H 2535

This law declares that if a firearm transferee requests a certification of eligibility from a local law enforcement official, the official has 60 days from the date of the request to provide the certification. Law enforcement may not refuse to provide the certification based on a generalized objection to possession of firearms.

AZ S 1397

This law clarifies that a permit is not needed to carry a concealed handgun in a licensed liquor establishment.

CA A 1798

This law makes technical, nonsubstantive changes to existing law regarding concealed carry permitting and other licensing aspects of firearms.

CO H 1166

This law allows a person seeking to renew a concealed handgun permit to renew the permit with a sheriff in a different county under certain circumstances.

CO H 1291

This law extends the right of a school district to employ a school security officer who may carry a concealed handgun in the school to a charter school.

FL H 525

This law provides that personal, identifying information contained in a concealed carry permit application and transmitted to a tax collector is exempt from public records act requests.

FL S 424

This law states that a personal property or auto insurer cannot unfairly discriminate against an insured by refusing to issue or canceling a policy, or charging an unfairly discriminatory rate based on the lawful use, possession, or ownership of a firearm by the applicant or insured, or a household member of the applicant or insured.

ID S 1332

This law prohibits confiscation of firearms except those actually used in the commission of a felony and imposes liability on state officials who attempt to enforce federal gun laws.

MD H 270

This law makes firearms license records confidential.

MD S 231

This law states that the Department of Natural Resources may not prohibit a bow hunter from carrying a handgun openly if he or she is otherwise allowed to do so.

MI H 4155

This law states that information in the concealed weapons permit database can only be accessed if the person requesting information from the database identify him or herself and attest that the information is being sought for certain lawful purposes.

MI H 5325

This law adds a definition of firearms records to the state’s licensing statute.

MI H 5328

This law removes provisions that certain records related to concealed weapon permitted are confidential and not subject to freedom of information act requests.

MI S 49

This law exempts from the freedom of information act, information about firearms licensees.

MI S 610

This law makes minor changes to the state’s law regarding the manufacture, sale and possession of short-barreled rifles.

MI S 834

This law removes a provision stating that information contained in an order making a person prohibited from possessing firearms is not subject to disclosure under the freedom of information act.

MI S 881

This law makes a minor change to what information is available by a FOIA request about a bar that prohibits concealed weapons on its premises.

OK H 2461

This law requires law enforcement officials to execute firearms certificate related requests within a specified time; provides for appeals; provides for codification; relates to the transfer or making of a firearm.

PA S 497

This law makes a minor change to the state’s preemption scheme.

SD HCR 1015

This law states that the United Nations cannot infringe the Second Amendment rights of the state’s citizens.

TN S 1700

This law states that it is permissible if a handgun carry permit holder transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition is observed by another person or security device during the ordinary course of securing the firearm or ammunition from observation in or on a motor vehicle.

TN S 1701

This law defines the type of motor vehicle in which a handgun permit holder may transport and store a firearm or ammunition in a parking lot.

TN S 1774

This law states that it is not a crime to possess a firearm in a privately-owned vehicle if the person possessing the firearm is not prohibited from doing so.

TN S 495

This law requires the Department of Safety to develop a way for handgun permit holders to change their addresses online in order to comply with the law requiring them to do so within 60 days of a change of address.

UT H 268

This law includes firearms in the definition of dangerous weapons.

UT H 276

This law clarifies that merely carrying a firearm openly is not disorderly conduct in and of itself.

UT H 295

This law states that a nonresident may possess a firearm while traveling through the state without being subject to Utah’s firearms laws unless the person would be prohibited from possessing a firearm in Utah.

UT H 322

This law states that alternative parking for an individual who desires to transport, possess, receive, transfer, or store a firearm in the individual’s motor vehicle must be in a location that is legal and safe for parking.

UT H 373

This law states that local law enforcement may not refuse to provide certification for the making or transferring of a firearm based on a generalized objection to private persons or entities making, possessing, or receiving firearms. Law enforcement also has 15 days from the date of receipt in which to return a certification, or denial, of federal authorization to purchase a firearm. 04.28.14

VA H 100/ VA S 600

This law states that the prohibition on public disclosure of concealed carry permit information shall not apply to any reference to the issuance of a concealed handgun permit in any order book before July 1, 2008.

VA H 357

This law makes a small change to the law making concealed carry permit records confidential.

VA S 260/ VA S 439

This law states that upon a request for voluntarily commitment for mental health treatment, the court shall notify the person that he or she is prohibited from transporting firearms, as well as possessing or purchasing them.

WA S 5956

This law states that it is not unlawful for a person to possess, transport, acquire, or transfer a short-barreled rifle that is legally registered and possessed, transported, acquired, or transferred in accordance with federal law.

WI A 558

This law makes an immaterial language change to the statute prohibiting firearms in certain public buildings.

Background Checks in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

Washington is a partial point of contact state for the NICS.1 In Washington, local law enforcement departments serve as state points of contact for implementation of the Brady Act for all dealer deliveries of handguns. Transfers of rifles and shotguns by licensed dealers are processed through the FBI.2

Licensed dealers must conduct background checks on prospective purchasers each time a dealer transfers a firearm.3 Washington requires firearms dealers to use NICS, the Washington State Patrol electronic database, the Department of Social and Health Services’ electronic database, and other agencies or resources as appropriate when processing firearm transactions.4

In 2014, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a universal background checks law by voter initiative.5 The law requires all private sales of firearms to be conducted through a federally licensed firearms dealer who will conduct a background check on the private buyer. See the Washington Private Sales section and our Private Sales policy summary.

See also the Retention of Sales / Background Check Records in Washington section.

Brady Exemption

Concealed pistol license holders whose licenses were issued on or after July 22, 2011, qualify as exempt from future background checks when purchasing a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) chart that outlines those permits that qualify as alternatives to the federal Brady Act. Please note that ATF’s exempt status determination for a given state is subject to change without notice.

Under federal law, persons who have been issued state permits to purchase or possess firearms are exempt from background checks if those permits were issued: 1) within the previous five years in the state in which the transfer is to take place; and 2) after an authorized government official has conducted a background investigation, including a search of the NICS database, to verify that possession of a firearm would not be unlawful.6

  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map (last visited Jan. 17, 2012). []
  2. Id. []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(2)(b). []
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(2)(b). []
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.010 []
  6. 18 U.S.C. § 922(t)(3), 27 C.F.R. § 478.102(d). []

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

In Washington, state superior courts and courts of limited jurisdiction may order forfeiture of a firearm proven to be:

  • Found concealed on a person not authorized to carry a concealed pistol;
  • Commercially sold to any person without an application as required by state law;
  • In the possession of a person prohibited from possessing the firearm under state law;
  • In the possession or under the control of a person at the time he or she committed or was arrested for committing a felony or committing a nonfelony crime in which a firearm was used or displayed;
  • In the possession of a person who is in any place in which a concealed pistol license is required, and who is under the influence of any drug or intoxicating liquor;
  • In the possession of a person free on bail or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony or for a nonfelony crime in which a firearm was used or displayed;
  • In the possession of a person found to have been mentally incompetent while possessing the gun when apprehended or who is thereafter committed under state law;
  • Used or displayed by a person in the violation of a proper written order of a court of general jurisdiction; or
  • Used in the commission of a felony or of a nonfelony crime in which a firearm was used or displayed.1

Law enforcement officers of the state or of any county or municipality may confiscate a firearm found to be in the possession of a person under any of the circumstances specified above.2

Any confiscated firearm may be surrendered only: 1) to the prosecuting attorney for use in subsequent legal proceedings; 2) for disposition according to an order of a court having jurisdiction; or 3) to the owner if the proceedings are dismissed or the court otherwise directs.

For laws governing the procedure for surrender of firearms by a person subject to a protective order, see the section entitled Domestic Violence and Firearms in Washington. See also the Mental Health Reporting in Washington section for additional court notices restricting the possession of a firearm.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.098(1). []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.098(4). []

Retention of Sales & Background Check Records in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

In Washington, licensed firearm dealers must keep a record of every handgun sold, in a book kept for that purpose.1 A form containing the date of sale, the caliber, make, model and manufacturer’s number of the firearm, the name, address, occupation, and place of birth of the purchaser, and a statement of the purchaser stating that he or she is not ineligible under state law to possess a firearm must be signed by both the purchaser and the person effecting the sale, each in the presence of the other.2 One copy of the form must be sent within six hours by certified mail to the chief of police or sheriff of the jurisdiction in which the purchaser resides.3 An additional copy must be sent within seven days to the state director of licensing, while another copy must be retained by the dealer for six years.4

The Washington Department of Licensing is authorized by law to keep copies or records of applications for concealed pistol licenses, copies or records of applications for alien firearm licenses, copies or records of applications to purchase handguns, and copies or records of handgun transfers.5

Washington requires that every pawnbroker and second-hand dealer doing business in the state maintain a record of the following, at the time of each transaction:

  • The signature of the person with whom the transaction is made;
  • The date of the transaction;
  • The name of the person or employee or the identification number of the person or employee conducting the transaction, as required by the applicable chief of police or the county’s chief law enforcement officer;
  • The name, date of birth, gender, height, weight, race, address and telephone number of the person with whom the transaction is made;
  • In the case of firearms, a complete description including the brand name, serial number, model number or name, the caliber, barrel length, type of action, and whether it is a handgun, rifle, or shotgun;
  • The price paid or the amount loaned;
  • The type and identifying number of identification used by the person with whom the transaction was made, which must be either a valid driver’s license or identification card issued by any state or two pieces of identification issued by a governmental agency, one of which must be descriptive of the person identified; and
  • The nature of the transaction, a number identifying the transaction, the store identification as designated by the applicable law enforcement agency, or the name and address of the business, the name of the person conducting the transaction, and the location of the property.6

This record must be open to the inspection of any commissioned law enforcement officer of the state or any of its political subdivisions at all times during ordinary hours of business, or at reasonable times if ordinary business hours are not kept.7 The record must be maintained wherever that business is conducted for three years following the date of the transaction.8

A second-hand dealer under Washington law is any person engaged “in the business of purchasing, selling, trading, consignment selling, or otherwise transferring for value, second-hand property including metal junk, melted metals, precious metals, whether or not the person maintains a fixed place of business within the state.”9 A second-hand dealer includes a person or entity that conducts business at flea markets or swap meets more than three times per year.10

See our Retention of Firearm Sales and Background Check Records policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.110(9)(a). []
  2. Id. []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.110(9)(b). []
  4. Id. []
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.129. These records shall not be disclosed except as provided in Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 42.56.240(4) (prohibiting public disclosure except for concealed pistol license applications and related information only to law enforcement). []
  6. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 19.60.020(1). []
  7. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 19.60.020(2). []
  8. Id. []
  9. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 19.60.010(7). []
  10. Id. []

Multiple Purchases & Sales of Firearms in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

Washington has no law restricting sales or purchases of multiple firearms.

See our Restrictions on Multiple Purchases or Sales of Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Waiting Periods in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

Washington imposes no mandatory waiting period between the time of purchase and the actual physical transfer of a firearm for every firearm transfer.1

If, however, an applicant has an outstanding warrant for his or her arrest, the dealer must hold the delivery of the handgun until the warrant is served and satisfied by appropriate court appearance.2 Where local law enforcement discovers open criminal charges, pending criminal or commitment proceedings, or an arrest or outstanding warrant for an offense making a person ineligible to possess a handgun, if the records of disposition have not yet been reported or entered sufficiently to determine eligibility to purchase a handgun, the local jurisdiction may hold the sale and delivery of a handgun up to 30 days in order to confirm existing records in Washington or elsewhere.3 After 30 days, the sale or delivery may proceed unless an extension is approved by a local district court or municipal court after a showing of good cause.4

See our Waiting Periods policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. While not a mandatory waiting period, Washington allows five days to complete a background check on a prospective handgun purchaser prior to delivery of the handgun. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(1)(c). []
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(3). []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.090(4). []
  4. Id. []

Minimum Age to Purchase & Possess in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

In Washington, a person under age 18 may not own or possess a firearm, unless he or she is:

  • In attendance at a hunter’s safety course or a firearms safety course;
  • Engaging in practice in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited;
  • Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm;
  • Participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance;
  • Hunting or trapping under a valid license;
  • In an area where the discharge of a firearm is permitted, when the individual is not trespassing and is either:

At least 14 years of age, having been issued a hunter safety certificate, and using a lawful firearm other than a handgun; or
Under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult approved for the purpose by the parent or guardian;

  • Traveling with an unloaded firearm to or from any activity described above;
  • On real property under the control of his or her parent, other relative, or legal guardian and has permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a firearm;
  • At his or her residence and, with the permission of his or her parent or legal guardian, in possession of a firearm for the purpose of lawful self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property; or
  • A member of the armed forces of the United States, National Guard, or organized reserves, when on duty.1

Washington law provides that, unless one of the above exceptions applies,2 persons who are at least 18 years of age, but under age 21 may possess a handgun only:3

  • In the person’s “place of abode;”
  • At the person’s fixed place of business; or
  • On real property under his or her control.

In addition, an applicant for a concealed pistol license must be 21 years of age or older.4

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii), 9.41.042. []
  2. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.050 or 9.41.060 for additional exceptions. []
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.240. []
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.070(1)(c). []

Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Washington

Posted on Friday, December 19th, 2014

See our Prohibited Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits certain persons from purchasing or possessing firearms, such as felons, certain domestic abusers, and certain people with a history of mental illness.

Washington provides that no person may own, possess, or have in his or her control any firearm, if that person:1

  • Has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a “serious offense” which includes any crime of violence, certain felony drug crimes, certain sex crimes, and vehicular assault or homicide2 (violators of this prohibition are criminally liable for unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree while those violators listed below are guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm in the second degree) and has not had his or her right to possess a firearm restored;3
  • Has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of any felony other than a “serious offense” or certain crimes committed against a member of his or her family or household (see the Washington Domestic Violence & Firearms section);
  • Has been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment under Washington Rev. Code Ann. §§ 71.05.240 (involuntary or alternative treatment for 14 days), 71.05.320 (treatment for an adult for 90 or 180 days), 71.34.740 (involuntary commitment hearing for a minor), 71.34.750 (treatment a minor for 180 days) or chapter 10.77 (treatment when found not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial), and has not had his or her right to possess a firearm restored;4
  • Is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a “serious offense.”

Washington also prohibits any person who is not a U.S. citizen from possessing a firearm without first obtaining an “alien firearm license”5 or meeting other state-defined requirements.6

Moreover, the state prohibits any person serving a sentence in a state correctional institution and any person confined in a county or local correctional institution from knowingly possessing or controlling a firearm while in the institution or being conveyed to or from the institution or while under the custody or supervision of institution officials, officers, or employees, or while on any premises subject to the control of the institution.7

Registration of Gun Offenders

Washington state requires courts to determine whether an individual convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of certain gun crimes must register as a felony firearm offender.8 The court may consider all relevant factors including the person’s criminal history, convictions in other states, and evidence of the person’s propensity for violence that would likely endanger others.9 If so ordered, the person must register with their local county sheriff within 48 hours of their release from custody or the date the court imposes the felony firearm sentence, if the sentence does not include confinement.10 Within five working days, the county sheriff must forward registration information to the Washington state patrol which maintains a felony firearm offense conviction database to be used by law enforcement. Information in the database is not subject to public disclosure.11

For further information on the background check process used to enforce these provisions, see the Washington Background Checks section.

  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040. Washington enables a person previously ineligible to possess a firearm by virtue of a conviction or a finding of not guilty of a non-felony offense after three years in the community to petition a court of record to have his or her right to possess a firearm restored, if the person has not been convicted of any further crimes. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040(4). []
  2. For a complete definition of “serious offense,” see Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.010(12). []
  3. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.047. []
  4. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.047; Wash Admin. Code 388-865-0585, 388-875-0080. []
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.171. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.173 for alien firearm license requirements. []
  6. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.175. []
  7. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.94.040(1), (2). []
  8. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.330. []
  9. Id. []
  10. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.333. []
  11. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 43.43.822. []