Understanding Washington State Gun Laws

Gun laws have been a hot topic of debate in the United States for many years, and Washington State is no exception. With recent changes in legislation and a growing concern for public safety, it's important to understand the current laws in place and how they affect gun owners and non-gun owners alike.
Washington State Gun Laws


Washington State has a long history of gun ownership and hunting, with many residents valuing their Second Amendment rights. However, the state has also seen its fair share of gun violence, prompting lawmakers to enact stricter regulations in recent years.

Current Laws

Washington State requires a background check for all gun purchases, including private sales and transfers. This law, known as Initiative 594, was passed in 2014 and requires both parties to go through a licensed dealer to complete the check.

In addition, Washington State has a red flag law, which allows family members or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who is deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Concealed Carry

Washington State is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry permits, meaning that if an individual meets certain requirements, they are entitled to a permit. These requirements include being at least 21 years old, completing a firearms safety course, and passing a background check.

Open Carry

Washington State allows open carry of firearms without a permit, as long as the individual is legally allowed to possess a firearm. However, there are restrictions on where firearms are allowed to be carried, such as schools and government buildings.

Pros and Cons


  • Background checks help prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands
  • Red flag laws can help prevent gun violence and suicides
  • Concealed carry permits allow law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families


  • Some argue that gun laws infringe on their Second Amendment rights
  • Stricter regulations may not deter criminals from obtaining firearms illegally
  • Red flag laws could be abused by those with malicious intent


Q: Can I legally sell a gun to a friend or family member without a background check?

A: No. Initiative 594 requires all gun sales and transfers to go through a licensed dealer for a background check, regardless of the relationship between the parties involved.

Q: Can I carry a firearm in a bar or restaurant?

A: It depends. Washington State law prohibits carrying firearms in establishments that primarily serve alcohol, but open carry is allowed in restaurants that serve alcohol as long as the individual is not under the influence.

Q: Can I carry a firearm in my car?

A: Yes, as long as the firearm is unloaded and in a locked container or secured in the trunk.

Q: Can I own a machine gun in Washington State?

A: No. Machine guns are regulated under federal law and require a special license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).


Washington State's gun laws are designed to balance the rights of gun owners with the need for public safety. While some may argue that the laws are too strict or not strict enough, it's important to understand and follow them to prevent gun violence and protect our communities.