Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants in Washington

Washington prohibits possession of a firearm by anyone who has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of any of the following crimes when committed by one family or household member against another on or after July 1, 1993:

  • Assault in the fourth degree;
  • Coercion;
  • Stalking;
  • Reckless endangerment;
  • Criminal trespass in the first degree; or
  • Violation of the provisions of a protection order or no-contact order restraining the person or excluding the person from a residence.1

Washington also prohibits possession of a firearm by anyone who has been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of harassment when committed by one family or household member against another on or after June 7, 2018.2

Washington defines “family or household members” as:

  • Adult persons related by blood or marriage;
  • Adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past;
  • Persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren.3

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders and Surrender of Firearms When Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders Are Issued

Washington enacted a law in 2014 that mirrors federal law by prohibiting gun possession by anyone subject to a protective order (domestic violence, stalking, harassment, and others).4 The protective order must have been issued after a noticed hearing and it must restrain the person from harassing, stalking or threatening a person protected by the order or child of the protected person or restrained person) and the person must represent a credible threat to the safety of the intimate partner or child.5

The 2014 law also requires the court issuing the protective order to prohibit the restrained individual from purchasing or possessing firearms or a concealed carry license and require the restrained person to surrender any firearms or concealed carry licenses in his or her possession.6 The individual must file a proof of surrender with the court.7

An older provision of Washington law provides that, if a protective or restraining order states that the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon by any party presents a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety or the health or safety of any individual, the court may:

  • Require the party to surrender any firearm or other dangerous weapon;
  • Require the party to surrender any concealed pistol license issued by the State of Washington;
  • Prohibit the party from obtaining or possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon;
  • Prohibit the party from obtaining or possessing a concealed pistol license.8

The court may also make such an order if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the party used, displayed, or threatened to use a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a felony or committed any offense that renders him or her ineligible to possess a firearm.9 If the court makes this finding upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence, then it is required to make such an order.10

The court may order the temporary surrender of a firearm or other dangerous weapon without notice to the other party if it finds that irreparable injury could result if an order is not issued until the time for a response has elapsed.11 These requirements may be for a period of time less than the duration of the order.12 The court may require the party to surrender any firearm or dangerous weapon in his or her immediate possession or control or subject to his or her immediate possession or control to local law enforcement, his or her counsel, or to any person designated by the court.13 These provisions apply to:14

Domestic violence protective orders are available to family and household members as defined above, plus domestic partners and former domestic partners.15

In 2017, Washington enacted a law requiring the Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to create an automated protected person notification system allowing a person to register to receive notification if an individual subject to a domestic violence order attempts to purchase a firearm.16

In 2019, Washington strengthened these provisions requiring a law enforcement officer, rather than a process server, to serve any protection order, restraining order, or no-contact order that includes an order to surrender firearms, dangerous weapons, and any concealed pistol license Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(8).

For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers/possessors, see the Washington Background Checks and Washington Prohibited Purchasers Generally sections.

Removal of Firearms and Incident Reporting by Law Enforcement

A peace officer who responds to a domestic violence call and has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed must:

(i) Seize all firearms and ammunition the peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe were used or threatened to be used in the commission of the offense;

(ii) Seize all firearms in plain sight or discovered pursuant to a lawful search; and

(iii) Request consent to take temporary custody of any other firearms and ammunition to which the alleged abuser has access until a judicial officer has heard the matter.

The peace officer must also ask the abuse survivor:

(i) If there are any firearms or ammunition in the home that are owned or possessed by either party;

(ii) If the alleged abuser has access to any other firearms located off-site; and

(iii) Whether the alleged abuser has an active concealed pistol license, so that there is a complete record for future court proceedings.

The inquiry should make clear to the abuse survivor that the peace officer is not asking only about whether a firearm was used at the time of the incident but also under other circumstances, such as whether the alleged abuser has kept a firearm in plain sight in a manner that is coercive, has threatened use of firearms in the past, or has additional firearms in a vehicle or other location.

The peace officer is required to document all information about firearms and concealed pistol licenses in the incident report. The incident report must be coded to indicate the presence of or access to firearms so that personal recognizance screeners, prosecutors, and judicial officers address the heightened risk to victim, family, and peace officer safety due to the alleged abuser’s access to firearms.

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040(2)(a)(i). ⤴︎
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040(2)(a)(ii). ⤴︎
  3. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.010(5), 10.99.020(3) and 26.50.010(6). ⤴︎
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.040(2)(a). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎
  6. Id. ⤴︎
  7. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.804. ⤴︎
  8. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(5). ⤴︎
  9. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(2). ⤴︎
  10. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(1). ⤴︎
  11. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(4). ⤴︎
  12. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(6). ⤴︎
  13. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(7). ⤴︎
  14. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.800(1). ⤴︎
  15. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 26.50.010(1), (2), 26.50.060. ⤴︎
  16. Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 36.28A.___ (added by 2017 c 261 § 5). ⤴︎