Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

A review of past responses has shown that the following questions have been asked frequently and we have answered them below:

Can you clarify or interpret Initiative 594?

What states recognize Washington’s CPL?/Will my concealed weapons permit from my home state be recognized in Washington?

How do I apply for a concealed pistol license?

How can a nonresident apply for a concealed pistol license?

Why doesn’t Washington have reciprocity with my state?

Moving to Washington?

Visiting Washington?

What are the laws regarding Short Barreled Rifles?

Prohibited Places to Carry?

Can I carry concealed without a permit while I am recreating in the wilderness?

Can I “open” carry in Washington?

How do I restore my firearms rights to possess?

Can I carry concealed while working?

Are children allowed to carry while hunting?

Under what circumstances may a person from eighteen to twenty-one possess a pistol?

How do laws regarding a concealed weapons permit affect the carrying of long guns?

Who can request an AGO Opinion?

What is legal advice and why can’t you give it to me?

Where can I go for more information?


Can you clarify or interpret Initiative 594?

Once voters pass an initiative, the Attorney General’s Office plays three primary roles:

  1. Provide legal advice to our state agency clients that have a new or expanded role under the initiative or whose operations are affected by the initiative.
  2. Uphold the will of the voters and defend the initiative against lawsuits.
  3. Provide answers in response to a request for an AGO opinion. An opinion represents the AGO’s official interpretation on a point of law. The following people can request an opinion:
    • Members of the Washington State Legislature.
    • Statewide elected officials.

    • Appointed heads of state agencies, boards, or commissions.

    • County prosecuting attorneys.

To date, our office has not received any AGO opinion requests. Therefore, at this point we have no interpretations of the initiative to offer to the public beyond the text of the measure itself.


What states recognize Washington’s CPL? / Will my concealed weapons permit from my home state be recognized in Washington?

If your state meets the requirements of Washington state’s reciprocity law, RCW 9.41.073, then your concealed weapons permit may be recognized in Washington.

You can refer to our reciprocity guide to see if your state’s concealed weapons permit is currently recognized in Washington.


How do I apply for a concealed pistol license?

You must apply in person at a local law enforcement office. Please contact local law enforcement for further information on how to do this.  You may also consult RCW 9.41.070.


How can a nonresident apply for a concealed pistol license?

You must apply in person at any law enforcement agency in the state. The process takes about 60 days to complete. 


Why doesn’t Washington have reciprocity with my state?

In order for Washington to recognize other states’ concealed weapons permits, Washington's reciprocity law (RCW 9.41.073) dictates that the other state must:

  • Recognize Washington concealed pistol licenses

  • Not issue concealed pistol licenses to persons under age 21

  • Require a mandatory fingerprint-based background check for criminal and mental health history.

We have no discretion under the laws of the state to act otherwise.

You can refer to our reciprocity guide to see if your state’s concealed weapons permit is currently recognized in Washington.


Moving to Washington?

Washington statute RCW 9.41.073(1) (b) requires that once a person becomes a resident of Washington he or she needs to get a Washington concealed pistol license to continue carrying a concealed weapon.  To apply for a Washington concealed pistol permit, you need to apply in person at the local law enforcement agency of your Washington residence address.  If you have further questions about this please contact local law enforcement.


Visiting Washington?

If you are visiting or passing through Washington state, Washington law (RCW 9.41.050(3)(a)) allows individuals over the age of 18 to transport a handgun in a vehicle without a concealed pistol license if:

  • the handgun is unloaded at all times,

  • the unloaded handgun is in a secured and closed opaque case, and/or

  • the unloaded handgun is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view when the vehicle is unattended


Short Barreled Rifles?

The short barreled rifles statute has recently been amended.  For more information on this, the statute may be found at RCW 9.41.190.


Prohibited places to carry?

The Washington state firearm law has designated certain areas where it is a violation of law to possess a firearm, regardless of whether you are lawfully carrying concealed. The prohibited areas are: restricted access areas of a jail; the area used in connection with court proceedings; restricted access areas of a mental health facility; that portion of an establishment classified by the liquor control board as off-limits to persons under 21 years of age; restricted access areas of a commercial service airport; and public or private elementary and secondary school premises. This can be found in RCW 9.41.300 and RCW 9.41.280.  Municipalities may also have laws, in keeping with state law, that prohibit firearm possession.


Can I carry concealed without a permit while I am recreating in the wilderness?

Washington has an exception to its carry permit requirement while you are in the wilderness (RCW 9.41.060(8)). Any person engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, or horseback riding, only if, considering all of the attendant circumstances, including but not limited to whether the person has a valid hunting or fishing license, it is reasonable to conclude that the person is participating in lawful outdoor activities or is traveling to or from a legitimate outdoor recreation area.


Can I open carry in Washington state?

RCW 9.41.270 addresses what can happen if you openly carry a firearm. There is no statute that addresses whether you can or can’t openly carry. Please refer to the statute for further information and limitations.


How do I restore my firearms rights to possess?

RCW 9.41.040(4) addresses restoration of rights generally.  Additionally, RCW 9.41.047 addresses restoration of rights for a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm, by reason of having been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment under RCW 71.05.240, 71.05.320, 71.34.740, chapter 10.77 RCW, or equivalent statutes of another jurisdiction.

Obtaining an Order of the Superior Court restoring your right to possess a firearm does not guarantee that a concealed pistol license or any other firearm permit or license will be issued to you.

Furthermore, obtaining an Order of the Superior Court restores only your state right to possess a firearm under Washington law. Federal law and state law on firearm possession are different in certain circumstances. If you are prohibited from possessing a firearm by federal law, you may be prosecuted in federal court. Restoration of your state right is not a defense to a federal prosecution.

Please keep in mind that this FAQ answer is intended to provide general information only and is not intended to be legal advice. You are encouraged to obtain the advice of a private attorney particularly where restoring your rights will likely require analysis of your particular circumstances.


Can I carry concealed while working?

The answer depends upon whether the job requires carry; and whether carry is allowed by your employer.

According to decisions of the appellate courts of the State of Washington, employers, both public and private, may establish workplace rules prohibiting employees from possessing firearms or any other weapons while on duty or at the workplace.

Please see the reported decisions in Cherry v. Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, 116 Wn.2d 794, 808 P.2d 746 (1991); Pacific Northwest Shooting Park Association v. City of Sequim, 158 Wn.2d 342, 144 P.3d 276 (2006); and Chan v. City of Seattle, 164 Wn. App. 549, 265 P.3d 169 (2011).


Are children allowed to carry while hunting?

Please see RCW 9.41.042 which addresses this question.


Under what circumstances may a person from eighteen to twenty-one possess a pistol?

RCW 9.41.240 addresses possession of a pistol by a person from eighteen to twenty-one.

Certain exceptions may apply under RCW 9.41.042, 9.41.050, or 9.41.060.


How do laws regarding a concealed weapons permit affect the carrying of long guns?

In Washington, carry permits are only issued for the conceal carry of pistols.


Who can request an AGO Opinion?

AGO Opinions are not issued at the request of private citizens.  The following people can request an opinion:

  • Members of the Washington State Legislature.
  • Statewide elected officials. 
  • Appointed heads of state agencies, boards, or commissions.
  • County prosecuting attorneys.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office issues official opinions on questions of law when requested to do so by designated public officials on issues that arise in the course of their duties. The opinions are not binding but can be given “great weight” by courts. AGO Opinions are not issued on every topic, but the office has issued opinions related to firearms.  If you require further information on whether an opinion applies directly to your situation, please consult a private attorney.


What is legal advice and why can’t you give it to me?

The Attorney General’s Office is the legal counsel to state agencies and certain elected officials.  We are, therefore, not allowed by law to provide legal advice to private citizens or their attorneys.

Legal advice consists of giving opinions regarding the law.  This generally takes the form of interpreting the meaning of a law or how the law will apply to facts or people.  For this reason we cannot answer your questions about what firearm laws mean or how they will apply to you.


Where can I go for more information?

Local Law Enforcement

Local law enforcement is often the best source of information regarding Washington’s firearms laws and the approval, denial and usage of firearms licenses.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

https://www.atf.gov/

This information contains useful information on federal firearms regulations, federal firearms licenses and other federal firearm related questions.

Department of Licensing, Firearms

http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/firearms/

Please note that this division of DOL acts solely as a record keeper of issued licenses that have been approved by local law enforcement and has a limited role with regard to firearms licenses. 

DOL is unable to answer any questions with regard to the actual approval, denial or usage of any firearms licenses or questions regarding the interpretation of Washington firearms laws.  DOL is also unable to provide legal advice to you.  That being said, the DOL website has a lot of useful information on concealed pistol licenses, firearms dealer licenses, alien firearms licenses, fees, forms, trainings and other topics which may answer the question you have.