Article 1, Section 24 - Right to Bear Arms:
“The right of the individual citizen to
Arms in defense of himself, or the state,
shall not be impaired…”
FACTS ABOUT CARRYING A FIREARM IN WASHINGTON STATE
(1). Washington is an "open carry" state for firearms. This means a person may carry a firearm in an exposed holster without any kind of permit unless there is something that makes it specifically illegal. (For example, carrying a weapon onto primary or secondary school grounds or other prohibited places, or carrying a weapon by most felons or anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime.) (2). Unlawful carrying (RCW 9.41.270) occurs when the person carries or displays a weapon “in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.” This is something more than just walking around with an exposed firearm.
(3). Unlawful carrying without a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) occurs when a person carries a concealed pistol on his person and does not have a CPL. A person may carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle only if they have a valid CPL. Those without a valid CPL may carry a firearm in a vehicle only if the firearm is unloaded and not concealed in any way on the body. (RCW 9.41.050) Exemptions exist in RCW 9.41.060
(4). Due to state preemption, no city, town, county, or other municipality can restrict your right to keep and bear arms more than the state. (RCW 9.41.290)
(5). Carrying concealed (with a CPL) or openly in establishments that serve alcohol is allowed in Washington, so long as it is not carried into an area designated as “no minors allowed” by the Washington Liquor Control Board. Refer to RCW 9.41.300 to view the complete list of prohibited places.
(6). Washington fish and wildlife laws prohibit the transportation or possession of a loaded shotgun or rifle in a motor vehicle by any person, regardless of CPL status. Detachable magazines may remain loaded if they are not attached to the firearm. (RCW 77.15.460)
(7). There is NO stipulation that a Washington CPL holder MUST carry concealed. Furthermore, lawful open carry of a firearm is NOT grounds for revocation of a Washington CPL.
8. Washington is a
“shall issue” state. This means that the issuing agency must issue a Concealed
Pistol License (CPL) to any applicant that meets all statutory qualifications –
Resident & Non-Resident. If you live
in the unincorporated area of a county you must apply in person at your
sheriff’s office. If you live in an
incorporated city within the county, you may apply in person at either the city
police department or sheriff’s office. If you are not a Washington State
resident you may apply at any local law enforcement agency in the state. (RCW
State Frequently Asked Questions About Open Carry
1) Where can I carry in Washington? Washington State follows British legal tradition, which states that anything that is not proscribed as unlawful is lawful (also called the "Rule of Lenity," which stands for the proposition that whatever is not prohibited by law is allowed.)
So the real question is; where can you NOT carry in Washington? There are four main state statutes that one must be cognizant of: RCW 9.41.050 (Carrying Firearms), RCW 9.41.280 (Carry on School Grounds), RCW 9.41.300 (Weapons Prohibited in Certain Places), and RCW 70.108.150 (Firearms in Outdoor Music Festivals). It is your responsibility to read and understand the definitions and exceptions in the law. RCW 9.41.050 is the primary law which affects gun carrying on a day to day basis. This law makes it unlawful for one to conceal a pistol without a concealed pistol license (hereinafter called CPL), and also makes it unlawful for one to carry a loaded pistol in any vehicle, whether it be openly carried or concealed carried unless a person has a valid CPL(see RCW 9.41.060 on Exceptions). Loaded is defined as having ammunition inside of the gun itself (magazine inserted with ammunition with semi-auto, ammunition in cylinder for revolvers). Localities may also prohibit the carrying of handguns in the stadiums and convention centers that they operate, however they MUST exempt those who possess a concealed pistol license. There are also federal statutes you must be cognizant of: 18 USC 922 (q), which prohibit the carrying of a handgun within 1000 feet of a school unless you are licensed to carry or meet another exemption to this law. The constitutionality of this law is questionable in light of United States v. Lopez and District of Columbia v. Heller. To our knowledge, there has been no prosecutions of this law where this is the sole charge. 18 USC 930, which prohibit the carrying of firearms in any "federal facility" or any "federal court facility."
2) What is "Warranting alarm", why do people (firearms instructors, police officers, gun shop employees) say that this law makes it illegal t o open carry? In 1969, RCW 9.41.270 was passed in light of the intimidating actions of the Black Panther Party in both the State of California and in Seattle. Analysis of the legislative intent behind the bill and final law indicated that the Washington State Legislature never intended this to be a gun control bill, and stripped out in committee provisions of the bill which would have prohibited carry within 500 feet of any "public building" for fear it would ensnare a peaceable open carrier walking nearby, thereby violating a person’s rights under Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution. This is not to say that all forms of open carry are lawful. The key word is "peaceable".
Can I open carry on a Bus, Train, Ferry, Personal Auto, Motorcycle or Bicycle?
(RCW 9.91.025) The right to carry a gun or ammunition in a fashion is not
otherwise prohibited by law on a MUNICIPAL TRANSIT VEHICLE (Greyhound /Amtrak
is not a municipal transit vehicle). Busses, Trains & the Ferries are
considered vehicles in Washington. You may carry loaded either openly or
concealed in or on any vehicle if you possess a CPL (RCW 9.41.050 (2a)).
If there is nothing prohibiting such Conduct..., then, it is Safe to assume such Conduct Legal. However, Federal Law, Enumerated under TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 97 § 1992, states: § 1992(7) Commits an Act, Including the USE of a Dangerous Weapon, with the Intent to cause Death or Serious Bodily Injury to any Person who is on Property described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of Paragraph (4);
Under Federal Law, the USE of Firearms with such INTENT is what is ILLEGAL, not just having them. Under Federal Law 18 U.S.C. 930, Trains, including Amtrak, do NOT qualify as Federal Facilities, because Amtrak employees are NOT federal Employees.
4) Can I carry in a bank, grocery store, church? They are all private property and may impose their own rules. The Federal Government may own shares of a bank but they DO NOT function as Federal Property.
5) Can I carry at or near a school? Or College? (RCW 9.41.280) If you have a valid CPL and are picking up or dropping off a student you are allowed on the school grounds. Firearms are not permitted in school buildings. Colleges set their own policies, which ban lawfully carried guns. South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia is the only college in this state we know of that does not specifically ban lawfully carried guns from their campus at this time.
6) Can I own a suppressor? ( RCW 9.41.250) Yes, as long the suppressor is legally registered and possessed in accordance with federal law [EFFECTIVE DATE: 07/22/11 one may begin to use their suppressor in Washington State].
7) I saw a park sign
saying no firearms. Is that legal? (RCW 9.41.290) No. Washington State has
preempted all firearms laws regarding possession. You may carry in any city,
county, state, National Forest or National Park in Washington State.
8) Can I carry with a round in the chamber? (RCW 9.41.010)(10) & (RCW 77.15.460) defines "loaded" in Washington State.
9) How old do you have to be to carry a loaded handgun? (RCW 9.41.240) You must be 21 years of age to carry a loaded handgun in public. See RCW 9.41.060 for exceptions.
10) What states accept the Washington CPL? AK, AR, AZ, FL, IA, ID, IN, KY, LA, MI, MS,
MT, MO, NC, ND, OH, OK, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT
11) Can I carry in a bar? (RCW 9.41.300) No. You cannot carry in a place where alcohol is consumed AND is off limits to persons under 21. Restaurants that serve alcohol are fine.
12) Who am I required to show my CPL to, and when? The law is somewhat vague, but essentially IF you are required to have a CPL in your possession, you are obligated to produce it to qualified persons (such as law enforcement) if they demand it. Also since you have to have a CPL to carry loaded in/on a vehicle, regardless of OC or CC, I would argue a transit vehicle operator might also want to see a CPL before allowing you on the vehicle. There are no firm rules or laws on this matter that I am aware of though.
13) Is there a list of gun friendly businesses? Yes, Friend or Foe is a website you can plug in a zip code or city and find those pro businesses. Green is pro / red is anti.
14) Where can I see a list of all available training bulletins from law enforcement agencies across Washington?
15) TSA regs on Flying with a handgun
16) Where can I get information on firearms & licensing?
17) Washington Gun Rights Pamphlet
18) Gun Ranges and Gun Shops across Washington
No license is needed to open carry however it is highly recommended that any person who open carries in the State of Washington acquire a CPL. Washington is a “Shall Issue” state for CPL’s. Meaning that if you meet the requirements in RCW 9.41.070 you will be issued a license within 30 days(resident) and 90 days(non-resident) by law.
This document is in no way legal advice. Consult an attorney on legal matters.
Washington Gun Rights
and Responsibilities written by Dave Workman
Washington Open Carry Discussion Forum
Concealed Carry on Campus
Gun Owners of America
Revised Code of
State Firearm RCW’s
Open Carry National Forum
DISCLAIMER: All firearms laws and interpretations noted here are provided for your information and research. You are responsible to know and understand the law, before you carry a firearm. Please refer to the Revised Code of Washington or a lawyer if you need more information.