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Washington State Frequently Asked Questions About Open Carry

Bill Starks

State Researcher
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
4,310
Location
Nortonville, KY, USA
1) Where can I carry in Washington?
Washington State follows British legal tradition, which states that anything that is not proscribed as unlawful is lawful (which stands for the proposition that whatever is not prohibited by law is allowed.)
So the real question is; where can you NOT carry in Washington? There are four main state statutes that one must be cognizant of: RCW 9.41.050 (Carrying Firearms), RCW 9.41.280 (Carry on School Grounds), RCW 9.41.300 (Weapons Prohibited in Certain Places), and RCW 70.108.150 (Firearms in Outdoor Music Festivals). It is your responsibility to read and understand the definitions and exceptions in the law. RCW 9.41.050 is the primary law which affects gun carrying on a day to day basis. This law makes it unlawful for one to conceal a pistol without a concealed pistol license (hereinafter called CPL), and also makes it unlawful for one to carry a loaded pistol in any vehicle, whether it be openly carried or concealed carried unless a person has a valid CPL(see RCW 9.41.060 on Exceptions). Loaded is defined as having ammunition inside of the gun itself (magazine inserted with ammunition with semi-auto, ammunition in cylinder for revolvers). Localities may also prohibit the carrying of handguns in the stadiums and convention centers that they operate, however they MUST exempt those who possess a concealed pistol license. There are also federal statutes you must be cognizant of: 18 USC 922 (q), which prohibit the carrying of a handgun within 1000 feet of a school unless you are licensed to carry or meet another exemption to this law. The constitutionality of this law is questionable in light of United States v. Lopez and District of Columbia v. Heller. To our knowledge, there has been no prosecutions of this law where this is the sole charge. 18 USC 930, which prohibit the carrying of firearms in any "federal facility" or any "federal court facility."

2) What is "Warranting alarm", why do people (firearms instructors, police officers, gun shop employees) say that this law makes it illegal t o open carry? In 1969, RCW 9.41.270 was passed in light of the intimidating actions of the Black Panther Party in both the State of California and in Seattle. Analysis of the legislative intent behind the bill and final law indicated that the Washington State Legislature never intended this to be a gun control bill, and stripped out in committee provisions of the bill which would have prohibited carry within 500 feet of any "public building" for fear it would ensnare a peaceable open carrier walking nearby, thereby violating a persons rights under Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution. This is not to say that all forms of open carry are lawful. The key word is "peaceable". If your pistol is in a holster, and you're generally not touching it or making gripping movements (except of course, in an actual act of self defense), or opening a coat to expose your pistol to intimidate someone to do something, then the current body of case law (state v casad, state v. spencer) generally makes such carry lawful.

3) Can I open carry on a Bus, Train, Ferry, Personal Auto, Motorcycle or Bicycle? (RCW 9.91.025) The right to carry a gun or ammunition in a fashion is not otherwise prohibited by law on a MUNICIPAL TRANSIT VEHICLE (Greyhound /Amtrak is not a municipal transit vehicle). Busses, Trains & the Ferries are considered vehicles in Washington. You may carry loaded either openly or concealed in or on any vehicle if you possess a CPL (RCW 9.41.050 (2a)).
Amtrak
If there is nothing Prohibiting such Conduct..., then, it is Safe to assume such Conduct Legal. However, Federal Law, Enumerated under TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 97 § 1992, states: § 1992(7) Commits an Act, Including the USE of a Dangerous Weapon, with the Intent to cause Death or Serious Bodily Injury to any Person who is on Property described in SubParagraph (A) or (B) of Paragraph (4);
Under Federal Law, the USE of Firearms with such INTENT is what is ILLEGAL, not just having them. Under Federal Law 18 U.S.C. 930, Trains, including Amtrak, do NOT qualify as Federal Facilities, because Amtrak employees are NOT federal Employees.
If found to be carrying you more than likely would have to disembark at the next stop.


4) Can I carry in a bank, grocery store, church? They are all private property and may impose their own rules. The Federal Government may own shares of a bank but they DO NOT function as Federal Property.


5) Can I carry at or near a school? Or College? (RCW 9.41.280)
If you have a valid CPL and are picking up or dropping off a student you are allowed on the school grounds. Firearms are not permitted in school buildings. Colleges set their own policies, most of which seem to ban lawfully carried guns. South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia is the only college in this state we know of that does not specifically ban lawfully carried guns from their campus.

6) I saw a park sign saying no firearms. Is that legal? (RCW 9.41.290) No. Washington State has preempted all firearms laws regarding possession. You may carry in any city, county, state, National Forest or National Park in Washington State.

7) Can I carry with a round in the chamber? (RCW 9.41.010)(10) & (RCW 77.15.460) defines "loaded" in Washington state. Unloaded means; Empty cylinder, empty chamber, no full mag or tube, not capped or primed.

8) How old do you have to be to carry a loaded handgun? (RCW 9.41.240) You must be 21 years of age to carry a loaded handgun in public. See RCW 9.41.060 for exceptions.

9)What states accept the Washington CPL?
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

10) Can I carry in a bar? (RCW 9.41.300) No. You cannot carry in a place where alcohol IS consumed AND is off limits to persons under 21. Restaurants that serve alcohol are fine.

11) Where can I get information about firearms & licensing in Washington state?
http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/firearms/index.html

12) Who am I required to show my CPL to, and when? The law is somewhat vague, but essentially IF you are required to have a CPL in your possession, you are obligated to produce it to qualified persons (such as law enforcement) if they demand it. Also since you have to have a CPL to carry loaded in/on a vehicle, regardless of OC or CC, I would argue a transit vehicle operator might also want to see a CPL before allowing you on the vehicle. There are no firm rules or laws on this matter that I am aware of though.

13) deleted

14) Is there a list of gun friendly businesses? Yes, Friend or Foe is a website you can plug in a zip code or city and find those pro businesses. Green is pro / red is anti.
http://www.friendorfoe.us/

15)
Check the TSA & ATF regulations on the airline on which you are traveling, they may have rules against weapons.


16) Gun Ranges and Gun Shops across Washington
http://www.waguns.org/rangemap
http://www.waguns.org/storemap

17) Can I own and use a suppressor? ( RCW 9.41.250) Yes, as long the suppressor is legally registered and possessed in accordance with federal law.

18) Carrying while engaging in a outdoor activity (RCW 9.41.060)
(8) 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;

19) Do “No Firearm” signs hold the weight of law in Washington State?
No Firearm signs have no force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in RCW 9.41.300 as being off limits to those with a Permit/License to Carry. If you are in a place not specifically mentioned in the law that is posted and they ask you to leave, you must leave. If you refuse to leave then you are breaking the law and can be charged. Even if the property is not posted and you are asked to leave you must leave. Always be aware of the possibility that responding Police Officers who may have been called without your knowledge and may not know the laws on trespass and could arrest you even if you are within the law.


No license is needed to open carry however it is highly recommended that any person who open carries in the State of Washington acquire a CPL. Washington is a “Shall Issue” state for CPL’s. Meaning that if you meet the requirements in RCW 9.41.070 you will be issued a license within 30 days(resident) and 60 days(non-resident) by law.

This document is in no way legal advice. Consult an attorney on legal matters.
 
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Lammo

Regular Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2009
Messages
581
Location
Spokane, Washington, USA
Thanks for all the hard work that went into this FAQ but (of course, there had to be a but, but I'm not trying to be butt) I have a semi-minor quibble. You state in section 7):

Can I carry with a round in the chamber? Or have to use a certain holster? There is no state or Federal law which prescribes carrying with a round in the chamber other than the normal "loaded" definition (RCW 77.15.460) and the laws that regulate loaded carry. It is suggested that your holster choice have some form of retention.

IMHO, the "normal 'loaded' definition" would be located at RCW 9.41.010(10). The definition in RCW 77.15.460 is expressly limited by the phrase in section (5): For purposes of this section, a firearm shall not be considered loaded if the detachable clip or magazine is not inserted in or attached to the firearm.

I don't think you should delete the reference to RCW 77.15.460 but i do think you should add a reference to RCW 9.41.010(10). Thanks again.
 

bogidu

Guest
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
120
Location
Pueblo West, Colorado, USA
Number 3?

First of all, FANTASTIC FAQ! Thank you!

One quick clarification, you're saying you have to have a CPL to open carry on a bus/train/ferry? That seems contrary.

3) Can I open carry on a Bus, Train, Ferry, Personal Auto, Motorcycle or Bicycle? (RCW 9.91.025) The right to carry a gun or ammunition in a fashion is not otherwise prohibited by law on a MUNICIPAL TRANSIT VEHICLE (Greyhound /Amtrak is not a municipal transit vehicle). Busses, Trains & the Ferries are considered vehicles in Washington. You may carry loaded either openly or concealed in or on any vehicle if you possess a CPL.
http://forum.nwcdl.org/index.php?action=downloads;sa=view;id=65
 

Bill Starks

State Researcher
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
4,310
Location
Nortonville, KY, USA
One quick clarification, you're saying you have to have a CPL to open carry on a bus/train/ferry? That seems contrary.


RCW 9.41.050
(2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
 

shad0wfax

Regular Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2008
Messages
1,069
Location
Spokane, Washington, USA
[...]If your pistol is in a holster, and you're generally not touching it or making gripping movements (except of course, in an actual act of self defense), or opening a coat to expose your pistol to intimidate someone to do something, then the current body of case law (state v casad, state v. spencer) generally makes such carry lawful. [...]

Just a reminder, State v. Casad is not case law. It is unpublished, cannot be cited in legal arguments and cannot be cited in a court of law. It might be mentioned in court, but since Casad "discovered" nothing new, it is unpublished and irrelevant other than as a "hrmmm well if I get that specific judge and I'm defending myself under Gregory Casad's conditions, then I'm probably safe." Other than that, State v. Casad is meaningless to us as open carriers.

The document is below.

http://www.impsec.org/~jhardin/gunstuff/legal/State_v_Casad_(unpublished).pdf

"STATE OF WASHINGTON, No. 35333-4-II Appellant, v. GREGORY ELIJAH CASAD UNPUBLISHED OPINION"

However, Alarm is “warranted” if the circumstances are such that a reasonable person would be alarmed. State v. Spencer, 75 Wn. App. 118, 124, 876 P.2d 939 (1994)

This opinion on Spencer is published and therefore is relevant to us as open carriers.

Every time Casad comes up I cringe. People need to stop citing Casad and forget about Casad. It is a piece of legal trivia that will at best get an odd look and at worst could be legally embarrassing. Forget Casad and focus on Spencer.
 

carlalynn_62

New member
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
2
Location
Washington State
question re: weapons on school grounds in Washington State



My brother works for an agency that is contracted by ICE (federal prison for illegal aliens) as a prison guard/ driver-transporter. He casually mentioned on FB that he was going to a high school football game. He also has a concealed weapons permit. In his words, he "likes to pack"....

I told him he better not carry a gun on school property, then an argument began. He is not a law enforcement officer. He works as a contracted agent. According to RCW 9.41.280, you are exempt if, you are,

h) Any law enforcement officer of the federal, state, or local government agency.

My brother was not carrying a gun with relation to his duties from work....this was on his own personal time.

So my question is, Is he legally allowed to carry a gun on school property around children?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Carla
 

gogodawgs

Campaign Veteran
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Messages
5,675
Location
Federal Way, Washington, USA
My brother works for an agency that is contracted by ICE (federal prison for illegal aliens) as a prison guard/ driver-transporter. He casually mentioned on FB that he was going to a high school football game. He also has a concealed weapons permit. In his words, he "likes to pack"....

I told him he better not carry a gun on school property, then an argument began. He is not a law enforcement officer. He works as a contracted agent. According to RCW 9.41.280, you are exempt if, you are,

h) Any law enforcement officer of the federal, state, or local government agency.

My brother was not carrying a gun with relation to his duties from work....this was on his own personal time.

So my question is, Is he legally allowed to carry a gun on school property around children?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Carla

The basic answer is no.
 

Trigger Dr

Regular Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2007
Messages
2,767
Location
Wa, ,


My brother works for an agency that is contracted by ICE (federal prison for illegal aliens) as a prison guard/ driver-transporter. He casually mentioned on FB that he was going to a high school football game. He also has a concealed weapons permit. In his words, he "likes to pack"....

I told him he better not carry a gun on school property, then an argument began. He is not a law enforcement officer. He works as a contracted agent. According to RCW 9.41.280, you are exempt if, you are,

h) Any law enforcement officer of the federal, state, or local government agency.

My brother was not carrying a gun with relation to his duties from work....this was on his own personal time.

So my question is, Is he legally allowed to carry a gun on school property around children?

Thank you in advance for your help.

Carla

Based on the information given, as a contract employee, he at best, would have a special commission that would be valid ONLY while performing his assigned duties.
 

carlalynn_62

New member
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
2
Location
Washington State
The basic answer is no.

Thanks GogoDawgs :) much appreciated....it's funny, my brother still insists that he's a law enforcement officer...I tried to tell him that he's not a Federal Air Marshall, the FBI, the CIA, the State Patrol, County Sheriff, or a city cop....one of these days he's going to get caught....sigh...
 

amlevin

Regular Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
5,952
Location
North of Seattle, Washington, USA
Thanks GogoDawgs :) much appreciated....it's funny, my brother still insists that he's a law enforcement officer...I tried to tell him that he's not a Federal Air Marshall, the FBI, the CIA, the State Patrol, County Sheriff, or a city cop....one of these days he's going to get caught....sigh...

He will probably find out that he is NOT when he is arrested. He will also run the risk of finding out something else, that he might not have a job after the arrest.


He needs to wake up soon.
 

BigDave

Opt-Out Members
Joined
Nov 22, 2006
Messages
3,463
Location
Yakima, Washington, USA
It is my understanding, a correction officer as in a community corrections officer it does apply, it does however does not apply to one working in a jail or prison.
I worked as a Correctional Officer for 7 1/2 years in Yakima County and mostly in Walla Walla several years ago and it did not apply then and it seems today it still does not apply to them as well.

It is good you are taking him to tasked on this issue as it could dearly cost him and doing the right thing is not always easy or the most popular way to go.

As you read through this the definition of a correctional officer is somewhat vague, scroll to the bottom and it clears some of it up.

AGO 2006 No. 15

[2] In this regard, we note that your opinion request also refers to the portion of RCW 9.41.060 that states that the concealed weapons license requirements shall not apply to “prison or jail wardens or their deputies.” (Emphasis added.) We conclude that corrections officers are not included within this term. The statutes have provided an exemption for “prison or jail wardens or their deputies,” as well as for “law enforcement officers,” since 1935. Laws of 1935, ch. 172, § 6. Neither of these terms originally were statutorily defined to include corrections officers. In 1996, however, the Legislature amended RCW 9.41.010 to expressly include certain corrections officers within the definition of “law enforcement officer” as set forth in the statutes referenced above. Laws of 1996, ch. 295, § 1(13). Such legislation would have been superfluous if corrections officers had already been exempted from the concealed weapons license requirements as “deputies” of prison or jail wardens. Since the Legislature is not presumed to have deliberately engaged in unnecessary or meaningless acts, Aviation West Corp. v. Dep’t of Labor & Indus., 138 Wn.2d 413, 421, 980 P.2d 701 (1999), we conclude that while corrections officers may qualify as “law enforcement officers,” they are not included as “deputies” of prison or jail wardens.

Hopefully this will help him pull his brain out of the lower cavity and just have him asked the Warden where he is working, if he does not mind being told NO.
 
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movingviolation

Regular Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2010
Messages
15
Location
East Pierce
so, clarify this for me: i can OC in public without CWP, but when i get in my car i have to unload the gun? or can i keep it on my person as long as it's still visible?
 

xxx.jakk.xxx

Regular Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Messages
504
Location
Port Orchard, Washington, United States
so, clarify this for me: i can OC in public without CWP, but when i get in my car i have to unload the gun? or can i keep it on my person as long as it's still visible?

You have to unload the firearm to be in/ on a motor vehicle without a WA CPL. You also cannot have it concealed on your person while int he vehicle. This includes Ferries and Public transportation. I think most people without their CPL usually sit down and immediately unload their firearms in their vehicle. It might be bad if the people outside of your vehicle see you draw a weapon, even if it is to follow the law.
 
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ak56

Campaign Veteran
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
746
Location
Carnation, Washington, USA
so, clarify this for me: i can OC in public without CWP, but when i get in my car i have to unload the gun? or can i keep it on my person as long as it's still visible?


The RCW's are your best source of information. Read ALL of section 9.41 often.

But to answer your question, without a CPL it must be unloaded in the vehicle, with some exceptions (see RCW 9.41.060).

RCW 9.41.050

(2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
 
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