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Am I prohibited from possessing a firearm in Washington?

You have an individual right to possess a firearm under the Washington State Constitution but your right is not absolute.  

You face a variety of restrictions under state and FEDERAL law.  

Under RCW 9.41.040, you cannot possess or own or use a firearm in Washington in the following cases:

1. You have been convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity) of a felony or any out-of-state crime that is equivalent to a felony in Washington state

What does a conviction mean?

For purposes of firearms restrictions under RCW 9.41.040, the term “conviction” has a broad meaning.  A “conviction” includes all of the following:

  • a finding of guilty after trial in adult or juvenile court
  • a plea of guilty in adult or juvenile court
  • A deferred sentence even if you successfully completed probation and the court dismissed the case
  • A similar type of probation where charges were dismissed 

Does a vacated conviction count as a conviction?

No.  You are not precluded from possessing a firearm if you have successfully vacated your conviction.

Please note, however, that vacating your conviction does not automatically result in the restoration of your firearm rights.  They is a different procedure for vacating your conviction in Washington.

2. You have been charged with a “serious offense” and are out of custody awaiting trial, sentencing, or an appeal

What is a serious offense?

Under RCW 9.41.010, a “serious offense” includes all class A felonies, all class B drug felonies, sex offenses, and the following crimes:

  • Manslaughter in the first degree
  • Manslaughter in the second degree
  • Rape in the third degree
  • Child molestation in the second degree
  • Assault in the second degree
  • Arson in the second degree
  • Robbery in the second degree
  • Kidnapping in the second degree
  • Incest when committed against a child under 14
  • Indecent liberties
  • Drive-by shooting
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Vehicular assault when the driver is under the influence of alcohol or was driving recklessly
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Unlawful sale or transfer of a firearm (if you hav a previous conviction for the same offense)

You are also guilty of a serious offense if you have been convicted for attempt to commit or conspiracy to commit one of these crimes

3. You are under 18 years old (with certain exceptions)

In Washington, you can possess a firearm even if you are under 18 years old, in limited circumstances.  

4. You have been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment

5. You are subject to certain types of restraining orders (which includes stalking, harassment, or domestic violence protection order and the Court finds that you pose a credible threat to the physical safety of another person

5. You have been convicted of certain types of restraining orders

These typically include stalking orders, anti-harassment orders, sexual assault protection orders, and domestic violence protection orders. 

6. You have been convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity) of one of the following misdemeanors against a family or household member

The following DV misdemeanors are disqualifying crimes:

  • Assault in the fourth degree
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Coercion
  • Stalking
  • Criminal trespass in the first degree
  • Harassment
  • Violation of a court order

What is a family or household member?

Under RCW 26.50.010, a “family or household” member means any of the following people:

  • Anyone related to you by bood or marriage
  • Any adult person who lived with you in the past (i.e. college roommate)
  • Anyone with whom you have a legal parent-child relationship. This could be a stepparent, stepchild, grandparent, or grandchild, an adoptive-type relationship

How long does a state firearm ban last?

In Washington, if you lose your right to possess firearms, you permanently lose that right for the rest of your life, unless your right is restored.

There are no exceptions--for instance, for lawful self defense, for target shooting, or for collectible guns.  

How do I know if I am ineligible to possess firearms?

The simplest--and cheapest--way is to run an online background check on yourself.

For a $12 fee, you can access access your Washington criminal history through the Washington State Patrol.  

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