Legal Information: Washington

State Gun Laws

August 10, 2017

If the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

It depends.  If the abuser was convicted of various crimes, has a protection order (including a DVOP, SAPO, stalking protection order, or civil anti-harassment order) against him/her, or meets various other conditions, s/he may not be able to legally have a gun. 

Washington law states that a person cannot have or buy a gun if:
1. s/he has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a “serious offense.”*  A serious offense is any one of the following (or a felony attempt to commit any one of the following):

  • any “crime of violence” (defined in RCW 9.41.010(b));
  • any felony violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, chapter 69.50 RCW (drug-related crimes), that is classified as a class B felony or that has a maximum term of imprisonment of at least ten years;
  • child molestation in the second degree;
  • incest when committed against a child under age fourteen;
  • indecent liberties;
  • leading organized crime;
  • promoting prostitution in the first degree;
  • rape in the third degree;
  • drive-by shooting;
  • sexual exploitation;
  • vehicular assault or vehicular homicide when due to driving  under the influence or in a reckless manner;
  • any other class B felony offense with a finding of “sexual motivation;” (defined in RCW 9.94A.030);
  • any other felony with a “deadly weapon verdict,” (defined in RCW 9.94A.825); 
  • any felony offense that was in effect at any time prior to June 6, 1996 that is comparable to a “serious offense,” or any federal or out-of-state conviction for a felony that would be a “serious offense” in Washington; or
  • any felony conviction for violating background check requirements for firearm sales under (under RCW 9.41.115).**

2. s/he was convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of any felony or any of the following offenses against a family or household member

There are also federal gun laws that prohibit someone who has a protection order issued against him/her or who was convicted of certain crimes from possessing a gun.  Go to our Federal Gun Laws page for more information.

* R.C.W. § 9.41.040(1)(a)
** R.C.W. § 9.41.010(23)
*** RCW § 9.41.040(2)(a)(i)