I can legally carry a concealed firearm in Washington, but can I wear a COVID 19 protective mask while carrying concealed?
Based on our most recent research, the USCCA has identified just two states with statutes against carrying a concealed firearm while wearing a mask: California and Illinois (although sheriffs and county prosecutors in Illinois have made statements indicating that wearing a mask to protect others from COVID-19 while carrying a gun isn’t illegal as long as the wearer isn’t wearing the mask while committing a crime). Due to the large number of inquiries, some states like Washington have publicly addressed their laws regarding wearing masks. The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office has reminded the public that it is still legal for citizens with concealed carry permits to have their firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they are covering their face with a mask.
If you have further questions, we recommend that you reach out to your local law enforcement office, or district attorney.
Washington is a shall-issue state. Licenses are issued at the local level by the sheriff or police department.
Any private sale of firearms in Washington is required to be completed through a licensed firearms dealer and a background check is required. Firearms registration is required insofar as retail dealers must record and report all retail pistol sales to local police/sheriff and to the State Department of Licensing. For transfers of handguns to an individual without a valid Washington driver’s license or state identification card or who has not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive 90 days, Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) dealers may not deliver the handgun until the transferee passes a background check or 60 days have elapsed since the date of the request, whichever occurs first.
Open carry is legal without a permit and the minimum age is 21 years old to carry a loaded handgun in public. Some areas are off-limits, including public schools and state courthouses. However, you must have a valid permit/license to carry a loaded handgun in any vehicle 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. CPLs are issued to residents and non-residents that are at least 21 years old. There is no current requirement to attend a firearms training course. Washington prohibits the carrying of a concealed handgun without a license except in a person’s abode or fixed place of business. In terms of reciprocity, Washington recognizes permits from other states that meet specific requirements.
Although Washington doesn’t have a specific castle law, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled that there is no duty to retreat if a person is in a place he or she has the lawful right to occupy and is being assaulted.
Use of Force The use force is justified in the following cases:
Whenever used by a person in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person or a malicious trespass or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession, provided the force is not more than is necessary;
Whenever reasonably used by a person to detain someone who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or on real property lawfully in the possession of the person, so long as the detention is reasonable in duration and manner to investigate the reason for the detained person’s presence on the premises, and so long as the premises in question did not reasonably appear to be intended to be open to members of the public.
Homicide is justifiable when committed either:
In reasonable defense against a felony or the imminent danger of great personal injury to any person; or
In resisting of a felony in or upon a dwelling or other place of abode, in which he or she is.
Defending Against Violent Crime No person shall be placed in legal jeopardy of any kind whatsoever for protecting by any reasonable means necessary himself or herself, his or her family, or his or her real or personal property, or for coming to the aid of another who is in imminent danger of or the victim of assault, robbery, kidnapping, arson, burglary, rape, murder or any other violent crime.
If Washington requires a permit to carry a concealed firearm, how are those permits issued?
Washington is a shall-issue state.
Minimum Age for Concealed Carry?
What is the minimum age in Washington to get a concealed carry permit?
The minimum age to carry concealed handguns in Washington is 21.
Weapons Other Than Handguns Allowed?
Can you concealed carry weapons other than handguns in Washington with a concealed carry permit (or under permitless carry if applicable)?
No. Washington's CPL does not permit weapons other than handguns.
Tasers or Stun Guns?
Is it legal to own a taser or stun gun in Washington?
Yes. Stun guns and Tasers are legal to purchase and possess for self-defense, without a permit. Washington prohibits carrying stun guns and Tasers onto public or private K-12 school property, buses, or facilities, if the devices are meant to be used as weapons to injure someone. The law doesn’t apply to police or school security officers, or to adult non-students who keep stun guns or Tasers in their cars while they're conducting legitimate business at the school.
However, they are illegal to purchase or possess in Ruston, Washington.
Is it legal to buy or use chemical spray/pepper spray in Washington?
Yes, any adult or anyone who is at least 14 years old and has the permission of a parent or guardian to do so, may purchase or possess a personal protection spray device. Pepper spray can be used by a party about to be injured, or by another lawfully aiding him or her, in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person, or a malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession, provided the force is not more than is necessary; or to reasonably detain someone who enters or remains unlawfully in a building or on real property lawfully in the possession of such person. The active ingredient of personal protection sprays must be either chloracetophenone (CN) or O chlorobenzylidene malonotrile (CS); or other agents commonly known as mace, pepper mace or pepper gas.
Can you carry a firearm in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol in Washington?
With a Washington Concealed Pistol License or a license/permit from a state that Washington honors, you may concealed carry only in areas of the restaurant where persons under the age of 21 are allowed. However, concealed carry is not allowed in bars or the bar areas of restaurants.
Can you carry or possess a firearm on hotel property in Washington?
Washington statutes don't specifically address firearms at hotels. Please note that each hotel develops their own policies and the individual hotel should be contacted to inquire about it's concealed carry policy. See theHandguns at Hotels pagefor additional information.
Store in a Vehicle in an Employee Parking Lot?
Does Washington have laws relating to storing firearms in private vehicles in an employee parking lot?
No. However, any person who aims any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded at or towards any other human being or willfully discharges any firearm in a public place where any person might be endangered thereby shall be charged with a crime.
It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm, in a manner, 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.
Yes. An immediate family member of a person or a law enforcement office or agency may file a petition requesting that the court issue an extreme risk protection order prohibiting a person from having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.
Does Washington have laws regarding carrying a firearm while using alcohol or drugs?
Not addressed in state statutes.
As a responsibly armed American, regardless of the laws in your state, it is unwise to carry while under the influence of any substance that could impair your judgement, slow your reaction times, or impact your decision-making abilities. Any decision you make while carrying a firearm could have life-altering consequences.
Is a permit required to purchase a handgun in Washington?
No, however, per I-1639, as of July 1, 2019, purchasers of semiautomatic rifles are required to show proof of attending a firearm safety training program.
Background Checks for Private Gun Sales? Exceptions?
Are background checks required for private gun sales in Washington? Are there exceptions?
Yes. Private buyers and sellers must conduct a firearms transaction through a federally licensed firearm dealer (FFL). However, the following transfers are exempt:
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. The transferee must not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law; and
Certain types of temporary transfers such as those between spouses or domestic partners or at a shooting range or a competition.
Does my current Washington concealed carry permit exempt me from needing a background check when I purchase a firearm?
Is there a waiting period after purchasing a handgun in Washington?
There is no mandatory waiting period for handguns. However, Washington allows 10 days to complete a background check on a prospective handgun purchaser prior to delivery of the 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 the time period in this subsection shall be extended from ten business days to 60 days.
Do handguns need to be registered in Washington?
No. However, retail dealers must record and report all retail pistol sales to local police/sheriff and to the State Department of Licensing.
Minimum Age to Possess and Transport?
What is the minimum age to possess and transport a handgun in Washington?
You must be at least 18 years old to possess or transport a handgun in Washington.
Can you concealed carry while shotgun/rifle hunting in Washington?
Yes, Any person engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, or horseback riding, only if, considering all of the attendant circumstances, including but not limited to whether the person has a valid hunting or fishing license, it is reasonable to conclude that the person is participating in lawful outdoor activities or is traveling to or from a legitimate outdoor recreation area.
Yes. A person is guilty of obstructing the taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife if the person:
Harasses, drives, or disturbs fish, shellfish, or wildlife with the intent of disrupting lawful pursuit or taking thereof; or
Harasses, intimidates, or interferes with an individual engaged in the lawful taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife or lawful predator control with the intent of disrupting lawful pursuit or taking thereof.
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State Constitutional Provision
The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."
Anyone who can legally possess a firearm may carry it concealed in permitless carry states without a permit/license. The minimum age* for permitless carry is shown. Check each state’s page for more information and any restrictions that may apply.
*PC-18 = permitless carry if at least 18 years old
*PC-21 = permitless carry if at least 21 years old
The process is the same as for a resident of Washington but cannot be done via mail and requires that you appear in person at any local law enforcement agency in Washington. [RCW 9.41.290]
Contact your local sheriff's office with documentation of your new address. The fee for a replacement license is $10.
Apply in person for a replacement at your local sheriff's office. The fee for a replacement license is $10.
Moving to Washington and interested in applying for a resident license? How soon can you apply? Washington issues resident and non-resident licenses, so you can apply for your license at any time. Washington law requires that once a person becomes a resident of Washington, he or she must obtain a Washington concealed pistol license to continue carrying a concealed pistol. He or she must apply in person at a local law enforcement office.
Moving from Washington and have a Washington resident license? Does that license transfer to your new state? Is there a grace period during which your Washington license remains valid? If a person with a Washington concealed pistol license establishes residency in another state, the license is valid until it expires provided the individual contacts the local sheriff's office with documentation of their new address.
Washington 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, the USCCA recommends that anyone who makes the choice to carry a concealed firearm obtain as much training as possible in order to be a responsibly armed American.
You can renew your license between 90 days before it expires to 90 days after it expires, although a late renewal fees apply. If your license is more than 90 days past its expiration, you must apply for a new license.
Complete an application form at your local city police department or sheriff’s office or you may be able to download the application through your county website.
You must renew your license in person. Take the completed application to the law enforcement office with the following:
Photo ID such as a state ID card or driver’s license; and
If you are a resident alien, a permanent resident card.
You will be notified by mail if your application has been approved.
Law enforcement officers (LEOs) and Retired LEOs (RLEOs) may choose to carry under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218. Under 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C, qualified LEOs and qualified retired LEOs, or those separated from service in good standing, can carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. For details check out our Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) page.
Per RCW 9.41.060, Washington RLEOS enjoy the same privileges as if they held a Concealed Pistol License. No background check is required and the privilege is valid so long as the retired officer has the appropriate documentation from the Washington agency the RLEO retired from and so long as the RLEO has not been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a crime making him or her ineligible for a concealed pistol license.
Per RCW 36.28A.090, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC), as required by this statute, developed a firearms qualification. It is important to note that no background check is required for officers to exercise their privilege under LEOSA.
Although Washington does not have a single qualification standard, WASPC recommends that officers use the qualification course currently specified by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC). There is no permit, per se, that is issued to officers. Retired officers should carry their retired officer credentials and proof of firearms proficiency.
Where Can I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Washington?
Carry in bars/restaurants that serve alcohol? Yes, in areas of the restaurant where persons under the age of 21 are allowed, unless posted. However, concealed carry is not allowed in bars or the bar areas of restaurants.
Carry in my vehicle without a permit/license? No, it must be unloaded and in a closed opaque case or secure wrapper.
Carry in roadside rest areas? Yes.
Carry in state/national parks, state/national forests, and WMAs? Yes.
Carry when traveling by plane? Yes, in the unrestricted area of the terminal, unless posted.
Carry in places of worship? There is no State statute prohibiting concealed carry in places of worship. However, since places of worship are private property, they may post signs prohibiting firearms.
Where Can't I Carry a Concealed Firearm in Washington?
Places off-limits even with a permit/license
Public or private elementary or secondary school premises, except that permittees are exempt while picking up or dropping off a student or by any non-student at least age 18 who has secured the firearm within an attended vehicle or concealed from view within a locked unattended vehicle while conducting legitimate business at the school;
Areas of other facilities while being used exclusively by public or private schools.
Any area of a building used in connection with court proceedings, including courtrooms, jury rooms, judge’s chambers, offices and areas used to conduct court business, waiting areas, and corridors adjacent to areas used in connection with court proceedings;
Restricted access areas of public mental health facilities;
The grounds of any state institution for the care and treatment of mental illness;
Any portion of an establishment classified by the state liquor and cannabis board as off-limits to persons under 21 years of age; and
It is illegal to own a switchblade or other spring-blade knife in the state of Washington. It is legal to open carry any type of weapon, so long as it is not carried in a way that may cause alarm. It is illegal to carry a dirk, dagger or other dangerous weapon concealed. It is illegal to possess any weapon in elementary or secondary schools or school buses. Other places where knives are prohibited include law enforcement facilities, jails, correction facilities, court facilities, and any portion of an establishment classified by the state liquor and cannabis board as off-limits to persons under 21 years of age. Municipalities may have additional restrictions including Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver which prohibit the open or concealed carry of any "dangerous knife" which is defined as a knife with a blade longer than 3 and ½ inches.
Here at the USCCA, it is our mission to provide responsible gun owners with the tools they need to be educated and trained. Our team is constantly working to provide you with the most up-to-date and comprehensive list of self-defense laws available for every state.
If you have any questions that you don’t see answered here — let us know! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be sure to get your question resolved. Your feedback matters to us, and we appreciate you helping to make this page the best possible resource for responsible gun owners!
Permit numbers were obtained from the Crime Prevention Resource Center’s publication entitled, “Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States.” Numbers include resident and non-resident permits for those states that issue both.
The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.
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