In Washington State, no permit is required to open carry a handgun; however, you do need a permit if you want to concealed carry, or if you want to carry a loaded, accessible pistol in your vehicle.
The Washington State Concealed Carry Permit is formally known as a Concealed Pistol License (CPL). As one of our main areas of practice, our attorneys at Findley & Rogers are experts on how to get a concealed carry permit in Washington State.
So if you’re ready to start carrying, get in touch with us for a free consultation or keep reading to find out the basics on how to obtain a CPL.
When Do You Not Need a CPL?
According to Washington state concealed carry laws, there are two situations when you do not need to have a Washington concealed carry permit to conceal carry a handgun:
- While on your own property.
- While at your fixed place of business.
In all other cases, you will likely need a CPL to concealed carry (including in your vehicle, as mentioned above). Also note that, as you might expect, the CPL only covers handguns, not rifles, shotguns, or automatic weapons.
The first steps in how to get a concealed carry permit in Washington includes meeting all federal requirements, as well as state-mandated requirements, such as:
- You must be at least 21 years old.
- You must have no previously recorded mental health conditions.
- You cannot have an active felony conviction.
- You cannot have a revoked CPL.
- You cannot be the subject of a court order preventing you from possessing a firearm.
- You cannot be facing new felony charges or have a warrant for your arrest.
Unlike other states, you do not need to complete any kind of firearms training course to get your concealed carry permit in Washington.
What If I Have an Old Felony Conviction?
Good news: Even if you have an old felony conviction, you can expunge your Washington state record and have your firearm rights restored! At Findley & Rogers, we value personal freedoms and we specifically focus on helping people in this exact situation.
You might be surprised at just how many people have an old felony conviction from long ago. Most felonies are not the “big ones” like murder. Felony charges can be lower in severity and carry a lower classification in Washington law, such as Class B and Class C felonies. So even if you have an old felony conviction, don’t give up on your Washington concealed carry permit yet!
How to Get a Concealed Carry Permit in Washington State with a Felony Conviction
While our gun rights attorneys can help you through the firearm right restoration process, the basics include:
Vacating Your Old Conviction
First, you may choose to have your conviction vacated, also known as “expungement.” This usually involves fulfilling all of your court-ordered obligations such as probation and restitution and completing a waiting period of several years from the completion of your court obligations. You cannot vacate the most serious convictions (such as Class A felonies), but you can vacate most. This does not restore your firearm rights, but can be helpful in other regards, such as employment.
Sealing Your Criminal Record
You may also choose to seal your past adult and juvenile criminal records in Washington. This can help you with more than just your Washington concealed carry permit. It also makes it easier to get a job, rent an apartment, and get a loan. Motions to seal are much easier with juvenile cases than adult cases, so you should talk to an attorney if you are considering this option.
Ending a Sex Offender Registration Requirement
If you are wondering how to get a concealed carry permit in Washington with a sex offender status, the unfortunate news is that Washington State does not allow the restoration of firearm rights following a sex offense conviction. However, it is often possible to end your registration requirement, and for juvenile offenders you may also be able to expunge your sex offender record.
Submitting a NICS Appeal
Even if your record is clear, you still need to pass the federal NICS background check system to obtain your Washington concealed carry permit. Some applicants, however, even with a clear record, have trouble getting through the federal NICS background check system. If you are struggling to have your NICS application approved, don’t understand the reasons why your NICS application was denied, or want to submit a NICS appeal -- we can help!
Concealed Carry Reciprocity with Other States
If you are new to Washington and already have a concealed carry permit from another state, it may be that Washington will honor your out-of-state permit while you actively apply for a Washington CPL. Known as “reciprocity,” some states will honor a Washington permit, too.
However, because the Washington concealed carry permit process has some fairly specific requirements (such as a mandatory mental health background check and an age limit of at least 21 years) Washington doesn’t accept most other states’ permits. There are a few states, however, where your existing concealed carry permit will be honored:
- Idaho (Only the Idaho Enhanced Permit)
- North Carolina
- North Dakota (Only the Class 1 North Dakota Concealed Carry Permit)
- South Dakota (Only the South Dakota Enhanced Permit, and Only for people age +21)
On the flipside of reciprocity, your Washington concealed carry permit is accepted in over half the United States which is great news if you’re planning to hunt or vacation in those areas!
If you have had your rights restored after a conviction, you should check with an attorney in any other state where you wish to carry a firearm before you do so, as firearm law varies from state to state and even if you have a Washington concealed pistol license, you may not be legally allowed to have a firearm in a state that normally honors the Washington license.
How to Apply and How Much to Pay
You must complete your CPL application in person at your local sheriff’s office. As of 2020, the cost is $36 plus a fingerprinting fee. The CPL lasts for 5 years, and renewals are in the same general price range.
Let Findley & Rogers Help You Exercise Your Rights
We hope this explains how to get a concealed carry permit in Washington State. The secret to success is to be properly prepared and know what you’re getting into before you show up at the sheriff’s office to apply.
If you need help on the legal aspects of clearing up your eligibility for a Washington concealed carry permit, let Findley & Rogers give you a hand.