Who Can Carry Concealed in Washington?

Washington permits open and concealed carry, depending on the location and whether the person carrying holds a license to. In this blog post, we will discuss legal open and concealed carry in the state, as well as the requirements for securing a concealed carry license.

Is Washington an Open Carry State?

Yes. Open carry is legal without a permit in Washington, and the minimum age to carry a loaded handgun in public is 21 years old. Some areas are off-limits, though, like public schools and state courthouses.

Concealed Carry in Washington

Concealed carry is legal for residents with a Washington Concealed Pistol License (CPL) and for non-residents with a license/permit from a state that Washington honors through reciprocity laws. The state prohibits the carrying of a concealed handgun without a license except in a person’s own home or fixed place of business. Be aware that a CPL does not permit weapons other than handguns.

Individuals can carry within a vehicle with a CPL provided:

  • the pistol is on the licensee's person;
  • the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there; or
  • the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

In cases with drivers without a permit, the firearms must be transported locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.

With regards to carrying in restaurants with a CPL, individuals may carry concealed only in areas of the restaurant where persons under the age of 21 are allowed. Concealed carry is not allowed in bars or the bar areas of restaurants.

Note that any private sale of firearms in Washington is required to be completed through a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL), who must conduct a background check. Firearms registration is required insofar as retail dealers must record and report all retail pistol sales to local police and to the State Department of Licensing. The few firearm trades that are exempt from the involvement of an FFL are:

  • bona fide gift transfers between spouses, domestic partners, parents, parents-in-law, children, siblings, siblings-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, first cousins, aunts, and uncles;
  • transfers to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm so long as the temporary transfer lasts only as long as immediately necessary to prevent such imminent death or great bodily harm; and
  • certain types of temporary transfers such as those between spouses or domestic partners or at a shooting range or a competition.

Applying for a CPL

Washington is a shall-issue state, and CPLs are issued at the local level by the sheriff or police department. To apply for a license, an applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • be at least 21 years of age;
  • have no pending charges;
  • have no outstanding arrest warrants;
  • have no felony convictions;
  • not be subject to a court order or injunction concerning the possession of firearms;
  • not be free on bond or personal recognizance while awaiting trial, appeal, or sentencing for a felony offense;
  • not have been asked to forfeit a firearm within the last 12 months;
  • not have a revoked concealed pistol license;
  • have no mental health conditions; and
  • meet federal law requirements.

Individuals may complete an application form at their local city police department or sheriff’s office or download the application online. Applicants must take their completed forms to their local law enforcement office along with:

  • proof they have lived in the state for at least 90 days;
  • valid photo ID such as a state ID card or driver’s license; and
  • a permanent resident card (if they are a resident alien).

Applicants should expect to be fingerprinted, and the initial license fee will be around $36, as well as the additional fingerprint fee. The license will be valid for 5 years, after which each renewal will cost $32.

Be aware that the state allows for 10 days to complete a background check on a prospective handgun purchaser prior to delivery of a handgun. If the purchaser does not have a valid permanent Washington driver's license or state identification card or has not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive 90 days, then this waiting period could be extended from to 60 days.

Note that the state does not require the applicant to complete a firearms safety course or otherwise demonstrate knowledge of firearms safety prior to issuance of a pistol permit. However, it is recommended that anyone who makes the choice to carry a concealed firearm obtain as much training as possible in order to carry responsibly.

Questinos? Contact Hester Law Group!

If you are interested in applying for concealed carry in Washington, make sure you have all the necessary materials to complete an application form and meet all the criteria. An experienced Washington attorney can help address any questions you have along the way about your eligibility and what your CPL will allow you to do or prohibit you from doing.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys at Hester Law Group for more information!