Guns in Cars

Washington Firearms Law – Guns and Vehicles

This is a brief summary of Washington law regarding carrying and transporting firearms in vehicles.  The first statute that applies is relates to carrying firearms.

Prior to 2019, the law reads:

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.

There are notable exceptions to this law.  For example, people engaged in “lawful outdoor recreational activities” are exempt.  There is also a provision for carrying a un unloaded pistol in a “closed opaque case or secure wrapper.”

So, the only lawful way to carry a loaded pistol in a vehicle, was with a concealed carry permit (CPL).  Under the old law, if a CPL holder leaves a loaded gun in a vehicle, the vehicle must be locked and the gun stowed out of sight.

The law above is still effective in Washington State.  In 2019, Initiative 1639 became effective in Washington State.  The initiative includes safe gun storage requirements.

Post I-1639:

If a prohibited person accesses your firearm, you could be charged with either a felony or gross misdemeanor, unless your gun was in secure storage.  Washington law defines secure storage as either locked in a safe, lock box, or with a trigger lock, and unloaded.

So, even a CPL holder could be charged if a prohibited person gains access to a loaded gun in their vehicle and uses that gun to commit a crime. Hopefully he legislature will provide some clarification in the upcoming session.

This is intended as a brief summary of the legislation, and should not be considered legal advice.  If you have been denied purchase of a firearm under Washington law and are interested in challenging the denial or restoring your rights, contact us for a c0nsultation.