Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Can you clarify or interpret the provisions of Initiative 1639?

It is our practice to provide members of the public with information of a general nature whenever possible but we cannot provide legal advice to private individuals or business owners. 

The text of Initiative 1639 itself can be found here. The language of the Initiative has been codified in Washington law in several sections of Chapter 9.41 RCW.

When an Initiative is placed on the ballot, the Attorney General is required by law to prepare an Explanatory Statement. The Attorney General’s Statement that was included on the ballot with Initiative 1639 may provide you with some useful information 

Once voters pass an initiative, the Attorney General’s Office has 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 Attorney General opinion. An opinion represents the Attorney General’s official interpretation on a point of law. Opinions are not issued at the request of private individuals. Only 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 these 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.  Opinions are not issued on every topic, but the office has issued opinions related to firearms.

To date, our office has not received any opinion requests regarding Initiative 1639.

Where can I go for more information?

Legal Advice

The Attorney General’s Office is not authorized to provide advice to private individuals or business owners on personal legal matters. While the office may answer questions of a general nature, most private issues require a detailed analysis of the law. Any individual or business owner needing such services or representation should consult a private attorney. If you do not know an attorney in your area, you may find help through the Washington State Bar Association here. If you are limited in your ability to pay for legal services there may still be assistance available through those resources.

Local Law Enforcement

Your local law enforcement agency is another source of information regarding the interpretation and implementation of the provisions of Initiative 1639 and Washington’s firearms laws in general. You can contact your sheriff or police department through the local city or county government where you reside.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives


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

Washington State Department of Licensing, Firearms


Please note that this division of the Department of Licensing acts solely as a record keeper of issued firearms licenses that have been approved by local law enforcement. Otherwise, this agency has a limited role with regard to firearms law. That being said, the agency website has useful information on concealed pistol licenses, firearms dealer licenses, alien firearms licenses, fees, forms, trainings and other topics.