OFFICES AND OFFICERS ‑- COUNTY ‑- SHERIFF ‑- CONCEALED WEAPONS ‑- ISSUANCE OF PERMIT
A county sheriff may not refuse to issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon under RCW 9.41.070 solely on the ground that the person applying for such permit is not a resident of his particular county.
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May 31, 1973
Honorable Charles D. Kilbury
P.O. Box 2482
Pasco, Washington 99302
Cite as: AGLO 1973 No. 59
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:
May a county sheriff refuse to issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon under RCW 9.41.070 solely on the ground that the person applying for such permit is not a resident of his particular county?
We answer this question in the negative.
The possession and use of pistols or other short firearms is regulated, in this state, by statutes presently codified in chapter 9.41 RCW. These two terms are both defined by RCW 9.41.010 as meaning
". . . any firearm with a barrel less than twelve inches in length."
RCW 9.41.050 states that:
"No person shall carry a pistol in any vehicle unless it is unloaded or carry a pistol concealed on his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a license therefor as hereinafter provided."
RCW 9.41.060 then sets forth certain exceptions to this licensing requirement in the case of designated law enforcement officers or members of various military forces. In addition, RCW 9.41.040 states that:
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
"No person who has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of a crime of violence, shall own a pistol or have one in his possession or under his control. Such person upon being convicted of a violation of this section shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for not less than one year nor more than ten years."
The issuance of a license to carry a pistol, where required, is governed by RCW 9.41.070, the statute cited in your question. As last amended by § 2, chapter 302, Laws of 1971, Ex. Sess., this statute provides, in material part, as follows:
"The judge of a court of record, the chief of police of a municipality, or the sheriff of a county, shall within thirty days after the filing of an application of any person issue a license to such person to carry a pistol concealed on his person within this state for two years from date of issue, for the purposes of protection or while engaged in business, sport or while traveling. Such citizen's constitutional right to bear arms shall not be denied to him, unless he is ineligible to own a pistol under the provisions of RCW 9.41.040 as now or hereafter amended or there exists a record of his prior court conviction of a crime of violence or of drug addiction or of habitual drunkenness or of confinement to a mental institution: Provided, That such permit shall be revoked immediately upon conviction of a crime which makes such a person ineligible to own a pistol. . . ." (Emphasis supplied)
From the portions of this statute which we have underscored, it will readily be seen that the issuance of a license thereunder is mandatory except where the applicant is ineligible to own a pistol because of his prior conviction of a crime of violence, or where there exists a record of his drug addiction, habitual drunkenness, or confinement in a mental institution. Nowhere [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] within this or any other current statute do we find any basis for the denial of a license to carry a pistol solely on the ground that the applicant, although otherwise eligible to receive such a license, is not a resident of the county to the sheriff of which the application is made. In fact, for the sheriff to deny issuance of such a license for this reason alone would be in direct conflict with the statute (RCW 9.41.070) as above quoted.
We trust the foregoing information will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General