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Who is prohibited from owning a gun in Washington?

Owning a firearm is a serious responsibility, and gun rights have featured prominently in the news lately due to high-profile shooting tragedies. Here in Washington, there are many different restrictions on gun ownership, as well as safeguards regarding the right to own or possess a weapon. These laws may be difficult to understand in general, but especially if someone has been accused of a weapon-related crime.

In the state of Washington, gun ownership is prohibited for people who have been convicted of a felony, unless gun ownership rights have been restored by the court. Firearms ownership is also prohibited for those who have been convicted of certain types of misdemeanor crimes - again, unless the right to possess firearms has been formally restored through the court system.

Felony convictions and certain misdemeanor convictions are not the only things that may prohibit a person from legal gun ownership in Washington. For example, if a person has been found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity, that individual is generally prohibited from owning a gun unless that right has been successfully restored through the courts. However, certain mental illnesses by themselves, such as bipolar disorder, do not automatically make a person ineligible to own a gun.

In addition, a Washington resident who has a restraining order against them for the purpose of protecting an intimate partner is also generally prohibited from legally owning a gun. The same holds true for people who have been convicted of a domestic violence offense.

Individuals under the age of 18 can possess rifles or shotguns. However, handgun ownership for those in this age group is prohibited via federal law; certain exceptions exist for farming and ranching.

Accusations of illegal weapons possession, using a firearm during the commission of a crime and felony weapons charges, among others, are serious allegations in Washington. Particularly in today's environment, authorities want to be sure guns do not get into the wrong hands. A criminal defense attorney with experience in defending against weapons crimes may be the one to turn to in the face of such allegations.

Source: King County, "Public Health - Seattle and King County," accessed June 25, 2016

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