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What do Washington laws say about possession of firearms?

Crimes can happen everyday throughout Washington, and some of them are violent or threaten the safety of ordinary law-abiding citizens. Because of this, some people consider purchasing a weapon to defend themselves and their loved ones against possible attacks or assaults. Purchasing a weapon, however, is not as straightforward as many people imagine, and Washington has restricted one certain class of citizens -- felons -- from possessing them. Violation of this state can result in felony weapons charges.

According to Section 9.41.040 of Washington's Revised Code of Laws, a person who owns a firearm illegally may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm if he or she was previously convicted of any felony crime or was found not guilty of felony charges by reason of insanity. First-degree unlawful possession of a firearm is considered a Class B felony and is enforceable whether the defendant is an adult or juvenile. Second-degree unlawful possession charges may be issued under certain circumstances if the accused person does not qualify for first-degree unlawful possession.

Unlawful weapon charges also can follow from other circumstances. For example, someone who owns a gun after committing a crime against a family member can be charged with unlawful possession. Assault, stalking, coercion and criminal trespass are also violations of the possession statute. Anyone who possesses a firearm after a protection order or no-contact order has been filed against them can also be in violation.

Conviction of illegal possession of a weapon has certain consequences such as a suspended right to own or possess a firearm. The consequences are more severe if the use of a firearm during a crime results in bodily injury to another person. Longer prison sentences and heavy fines may face a defendant if he or she is convicted.

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