To restore your firearm rights in Washington, you have to file a written motion in the correct court and notify the prosecuting attorney's office.
RCW 9.41.040(4) is the statute the deals with firearms restoration in Washington.
What court do I file my motion?
Under RCW 9.41.040(4)b), you must file your petition to restore your firearms in one of these two courts:
- The "court of record" that took away your firearm rights
- The superior court in the county in which you reside
The superior court is the only court of record in Washington. You cannot file a motion to restore your firearms rights in the district court or the juvenile court.
Example #1: You were convicted to domestic violence assault in Thurston County District Court. Once you are eligible, you can file your restoration motion in Thurston County Superior Court.
Example #2: You were convicted of a felony in King County but now you live in Vancouver. You could file your motion in either Clark County or King County Superior Court.
I don't live in Washington. Can I restore my firearm rights in Washington?
Under Washington law, you can file your motion to restore your firearm rights in any superior court that terminated your right to use or possess firearms.
Example #1: You live in Georgia but you were convicted of a felony when you were living in Seattle. You can file a motion to restore your Washington firearm rights in King County Superior Court.
Why? This is because felony cases are heard in superior court, and any felony committed in King County is handled in King County Superior Court.
Example #2: You live in Idaho but you were convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence assault in Spokane County District Court when you use to live in Washington. You cannot restore your rights in Washington.
Why? This is because you lost your firearm rights in district court, but you cannot file a firearms restoration motion in the district court. And you cannot file your motion in the superior court in Spokane County because the superior court didn't handle your case.
Finally, an Idaho court cannot restore your Washington gun rights because Idaho does not have jurisdiction over Washington gun cases.
Do I have to clear my criminal record to restore my gun rights?
Restoring your firearm rights is a separate procedure than vacating your criminal convictions or expunging your criminal record. One does not necessarily require the other.
Can I restore my firearm rights if I'm currently charged with a crime?
Under RCW 9.41.040(4), you cannot restore your firearm rights in Washington if you are currently facing criminal charges.
You will have to resolve your case before you can move forward. This could include pleading guilty, convincing the government to dismiss your case, or winning your case at trial.
How much does it cost to file a motion?
The standard filing fee in most Washington courts for filing a gun rights restoration motion is $240.
There may be additional fees to obtain law enforcement or court records, depending on your case.
Do I have to go to court?
This depends on the jurisdiction. In some courts, you will have to appear.
If you have an attorney, you will rarely if ever have to appear. This is probably the biggest reason to consider hiring an attorney to handle your case.
Will the court grant my motion?
Yes, if you satisfy the statutory criteria under RCW 9.41.040(4) for restoring your firearm rights, depending on whether you were convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor.
Unlike some states, you do not have to prove that you are a danger to the community. You do not have to prove that you can safely handle a weapon. You do not have to prove that are criminally rehabilitated.
So long as you meet the statutory requirements under RCW 9.41.040(4), the Court must grant your motion and restore your firearm rights. In other words, the judge has no discretion to deny your motion if you qualify.
What happens when my firearm rights are restored?
Once your firearms rights are restored, you regain the following rights:
- The right to own, carry, and operate firearms
- You are eligible to apply for a concealed pistol license
- The right to go hunting with a firearm for sport
- The right to go shooting for target practice