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How Washington's concealed weapon law works

Firearms and violence are a common problem in some parts of Washington State. As a result, the legislature has enacted various laws regarding weapons possession and provided law enforcement officers with the power to enforce those laws. Many violent crimes, such as robbery, murder and assault, are often committed using firearms. Some people are disturbed enough by the possibility of becoming a victim that they want the freedom to carry a conceal weapons in public.

Washington's laws allow certain citizens to carry concealed weapons if they apply for and are granted a license or permit. Washington's firearms and dangerous weapons laws only allow non-Washington residents to carry concealed weapons in the state, if their concealed weapons permit is from a state with laws that have reciprocity with Washington. To meet the state's reciprocity law, the other state cannot provide concealed weapons licenses to people under age 21, and they must recognize Washington's concealed pistol permit. The other state must also require a background check for an applicant's mental and criminal history through mandatory fingerprinting. Thirteen states have complete reciprocity with Washington, including the neighboring state of Idaho. Many other states do not, including neighboring Oregon.

For tourists and other visitors to Washington, the law may allow them to transport a weapon even without a license. The weapon owner, nonetheless, must be sure that the weapon is unloaded and kept in a secure and closed opaque case that is locked within the owner's vehicle. Any gun owner who moves to Washington must obtain the state's Concealed Pistol License once he or she becomes a legal resident.

Having a concealed weapon license does not entitle anyone to carry the weapon anywhere. Certain places are completely off-limits to weapons with or without conceal permits. These include mental health facilities, schools and federal properties.

Source:, "Concealed weapons frequently asked questions," accessed on Jan. 19, 2015

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