The U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, but there is no constitutional right to carry firearms as concealed weapons. Here in the state of Washington, what does the law say about concealed weapons?
The most important thing to know about firearms and concealed carry laws in this state is that if you are charged with any gun law violation, it is imperative to have the advice and representation of an experienced Seattle domestic violence attorney – immediately.
Washington’s firearms and concealed carry laws are created to deter gun violence and decrease the number of shooting victims. State law specifies who may possess, use, and carry a firearm, how a firearm may be carried, and what firearms are legal.
WHAT ARE WASHINGTON’S CONCEALED CARRY LAWS?
Open carry of a firearm is lawful without a permit in the state of Washington except, according to the law, “under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”
However, open carry of a loaded handgun in a vehicle is legal only with a concealed pistol license. Open carry of a loaded long gun in a vehicle is illegal.
The criminal charge of “carrying a concealed firearm” happens in this state when someone carries a concealed firearm without a concealed pistol license. It does not matter if the weapon was discovered in the defendant’s home, vehicle, or on his or her person.
HOW DO YOU OBTAIN A WASHINGTON CONCEALED PISTOL LICENSE?
To acquire a concealed pistol license in the state of Washington, you must be at least 21 years old, apply in person at a local law enforcement agency, and be fingerprinted for a background check.
If you reside in an unincorporated area of a county, apply at the county sheriff’s office. If you live in a city or municipality, you may apply at either the sheriff’s office or the police department.
You cannot apply for a concealed pistol license in this state if you:
1. are free on bail or personal recognizance awaiting a trial, appeal, or felony sentencing
2. are subject to an injunction or court order regarding the possession of firearms
3. have an arrest warrant outstanding
4. have been ordered to surrender a firearm within the previous twelve months
5. have had a concealed pistol license revoked
WHAT ARE THE OTHER CONCEALED PISTOL LICENSE REQUIREMENTS?
A concealed pistol license is valid for five years. The license may be renewed by applying within ninety days before or after the expiration date on the license.
The state of Washington will grant concealed carry permits to every applicant who meets the criteria. There are no educational or training requirements.
If you possess a concealed pistol license, you are still restricted from carrying a firearm into schools, establishments that serve alcohol, government buildings, and the restricted access areas of commercial service airports and mental health facilities.
WHAT ABOUT CONCEALED WEAPONS IN VEHICLES?
Even with a concealed pistol license, you may only carry a concealed firearm in a vehicle if it is on your person or if you are in the vehicle at all times the weapon is in the vehicle. If the license owner is not in the vehicle, the weapon must be locked inside the vehicle and placed out of view.
Violating the state of Washington’s concealed carry law is considered a misdemeanor. A first conviction is punishable by up to ninety days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Because there is a constitutional right to bear arms, concealed weapons laws must protect that right while simultaneously keeping the public safe.
Washington’s gun laws are numerous, and they are almost constantly being changed and amended. For example, in 2014, Washington’s lawmakers enacted a law mandating background checks for all gun sales in this state, including transactions between private individuals.
IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A GUN CRIME, WHO CAN HELP?
If you are accused of violating Washington’s concealed carry law – or any of this state’s extensive and complicated firearms laws – you must reach out at once to a qualified criminal defense attorney for legal advice and representation.
After reviewing the details of the charge against you, your lawyer will work on crafting an effective, appropriate defense strategy.
A good criminal defense lawyer will investigate the charge against you, protect your legal rights, and in most cases, will advocate aggressively for a dismissal of the charge or for your acquittal at trial.
WHAT’S THE KEY ISSUE IN CONCEALED WEAPONS CASES?
In concealed weapons cases, the central question is this: If your weapon was concealed, how did police officers discover it?
If the police obtained information illegally or violated your rights during an investigation, interrogation, search, or arrest, your attorney can move to have the evidence against you suppressed or to have the charge against you entirely dismissed.
If you are innocent of committing any crime, contesting the charge is the right thing to do. However, if the evidence against you is strong and you are sure to be convicted, your attorney may be able to negotiate for a reduced charge or for reduced sentencing.
A conviction for a second, third, or subsequent firearms or firearms-related offense, as you might imagine, will be penalized much more harshly by Washington’s state courts.
CAN YOU LOSE YOUR RIGHT TO OWN FIREARMS IN THIS STATE?
If you are convicted of any felony charge – or of a misdemeanor charge involving domestic violence – you can lose your right to own a firearm or to obtain a concealed pistol license in this state. Violations of this provision are considered felonies under state law.
If you have been charged with illegally carrying a concealed weapon, owning a firearm illegally, or committing a crime with a firearm in the Seattle area or anywhere in this state, you must put a skilled criminal defense lawyer to work on your behalf.
A gun charge – almost any gun charge – can put your future and even your freedom at risk unless you get the legal help you need – as soon as possible after an arrest – from the right criminal defense attorney.
If you are accused of any firearms crime here in the state of Washington, arrange to speak about your case with a criminal defense attorney at once. That is your right.