Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1951 No. 424 -
Attorney General Smith Troy


Notwithstanding the licensing authority being changed from the Director of Licenses to others enumerated in the statute, chapter 72, Laws of 1935, does not repeal chapter 52, Laws of 1911, requiring as a prerequisite that an alien, before being licensed to possess or carry any firearm, must present a certificate of the consul of the country from which he came that he is a responsible person.

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                                                                 January 11, 1951

Honorable J. D. McDougall
Acting Director of Licenses
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 424

Dear Sir:

            Receipt is acknowledged of your request of December 27, 1950, for an opinion of this office as to whether or not chapter 172, Laws of 1935, relating to the licensing of persons to carry short firearms has repealed section 1, chapter 52, Laws of 1911, relating to the licensing of aliens to carry firearms.

            Our conclusions are stated as follows:

            By section 1, chapter 52, Laws of 1911, aliens could not be licensed to carry firearms in this state without presenting a certificate that he was a reasonable person from the Consul of the country from which said alien came.  The State Auditor was the licensing agent.  By section 104, chapter 7, Laws of 1921, the licensing of all persons to carry firearms was changed to the Director of Licenses; chapter 172, Laws of 1935, again changed the law and provided that the licensing of all persons to carry short firearms was delegated to the judge of the court of record, chief of police, or sheriff, but the 1911 requisite for a certificate of the Consul is still necessary before an alien may be licensed to possess or carry any firearm.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]


            Section 1, chapter 52, Laws of 1911 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 2517-1) made provision for the licensing of aliens to possess or carry any firearm as follows:

            "It shall be unlawful for any person who is not a citizen of the United States, or who has not declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, to carry or have in his possession at any time any shot gun, rifleor other firearm, without first having obtained a license from the state auditor, and said license is not to be issued by said state auditor except upon the certificate of the consul domiciled in the State of Washington and representing the country of such alien, that he is a responsible person and upon the payment for said license of the sum of fifteen dollars ($15.00); * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            Section 104, chapter 7, Laws of 1921, (Rem. Rev. Stat. 10862 (4)) provided as follows:

            "The director of licenses shall have the power, and it shall be his duty:

            "* * *

            "(4) To exercise all the powers and perform all the duties relating to the issuance of licenses to aliens to carry or have in their possession firearms, now vested in, and required to be performed by, the state auditor, except the receiving of fees;"

            by which the licensing duty to so license aliens was transmitted from the state auditor to the director of licenses, and since the term "firearm" was used therein all types thereof were included.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            Chapter 172, Laws of 1935 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 2516-1) which covers the licensing of short firearms only, in addition to making other provisions, takes out of the jurisdiction of the Director of Licenses the licensing of weapons which comes within the definition of section 1.

            "'Short Firearm' as used in this act means any firearm with a barrel less than twelve (12) inches in length."

            and provides instead:

            "The judge of a court of record, the chief of police of a municipality, the sheriff of a county, shall upon the application of any person issue a license to such person to carry a pistol in a vehicle, or concealed on or about his person within this state for not more than one year from date of issue, if it appears that the applicant has good reason to fear an injury to his person or property, or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol, and that he is a suitable person to be so licensed.  The license shall be in triplicate, in form to be prescribed by the state director of licenses, * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            Various persons are prohibited from carrying short firearms, said persons being named in sections 4 and 8 of the act, but aliens are nowhere mentioned in said act.  However, inasmuch as it follows the earlier enactments covering all firearms we must reluctantly conclude that as to short firearms the earlier acts have been amended to the extent that they are inconsistent with chapter 172, Laws of 1935.

            While it may be that the legislature in 1935 did not intend to spread the duty of licensing aliens so thinly, this act covers the subject of licensingof all persons to carry short firearms, it being an established doctrine of statutory interpretation that while a later act amends earlier enactments it does so only as to inconsistent parts.  The 1935 act makes no provision as to the licensing of aliens or how it may be determined whether they are persons of responsibility to be allowed said privilege.  It therefore follows that the special requisite created in the 1911 act has not been rendered inoperative and an alien must, therefore, in order to be licensed to possess or carry any firearm, present a certificate from the Consul representing his country that he is a responsible person.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            It, therefore, must follow that as to all firearms other than short firearms an alien must present said certificate and shall be licensed by the Director of Licenses.  As to short firearms he must present said certificate but is licensed by others as provided by the 1935 act.  Inasmuch as the form of licensing to carry short firearms is prescribed by the Director of Licenses it would be within his province to point out on said form that the certificate of responsibility executed by the Consul is necessary before a license may be issued to an alien to carry short firearms.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney Gneral