Washington protects the right to bear arms under Article I, Section 24 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. Washington requires a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle unless you are in your house or fixed place of business. (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.050.)
For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Permit Laws in Washington.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in Washington
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon (open or concealed) in Washington:
- applicants younger than 21 years old
- those ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law
- non-United States citizens
- felony offenders
- people adjudicated as mentally incompetent or insane
- persons subject to a court order or injunction regarding firearms
- anyone free on bond pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony offense
- anyone with an outstanding warrant against them, and
- people who have been ordered to forfeit a firearm within the last one year.
(Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.070.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in Washington. You may not carry:
- outside your house or fixed place of business (unless you have a concealed carry permit) (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.050.)
- on school premises or on a school bus (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.280.)
- in a courthouse or jail (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.300.)
- in restricted areas in mental health facilities, airports, establishments that sell liquor, and
- in a vehicle (a loaded firearm). (Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 77.15.460.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
It is a misdemeanor to carry a weapon in Washington without a concealed carry license (unless you are in your own home or fixed place of business). Penalties include a fine of at least $250 (and up to $1,000), at least 24 hours (and up to 90 days) in jail, or both.
Unlawful possession of a firearm (carrying a weapon when you are in a class of persons not allowed to do so, as listed above; or carrying a firearm in an illegal location) is a class B felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $20,000, up to ten years in prison, or both.
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious, and often include harsh fines and long prison sentences. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Washington, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.