Washington provides that a product manufacturer is subject to liability if a claimant’s harm was proximately caused by the negligence of the manufacturer in that the product was not reasonably safe as designed or not reasonably safe because adequate warnings or instructions were not provided.1 Washington law further provides that:

A product is not reasonably safe as designed, if, at the time of manufacture, the likelihood that the product would cause the claimant’s harm or similar harms, and the seriousness of those harms, outweighed the burden on the manufacturer to design a product that would have prevented those harms and the adverse effect that an alternative design that was practical and feasible would have on the usefulness of the product: PROVIDED, That a firearm or ammunition shall not be deemed defective in design on the basis that the benefits of the product do not outweigh the risk of injury posed by its potential to cause serious injury, damage, or death when discharged. [emphasis added.]2

In addition, state and local governmental entities, public and private agencies, and the employees of any state or local governmental entity or public or private agency, acting in good faith, are immune from liability for:

  • Failure to prevent the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person whose receipt or possession of the firearm is unlawful;
  • Preventing the sale or transfer of a firearm to a person who may lawfully receive or possess a firearm;
  • Issuing a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license to a person ineligible for such a license;
  • Failing to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license to a person eligible for such a license;
  • Revoking or failing to revoke an issued concealed pistol license or alien firearm license;
  • Errors in preparing or transmitting information as part of determining a person’s eligibility to receive or possess a firearm, or eligibility for a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license;
  • Issuing a dealer’s license to a person ineligible for such a license; or
  • Failing to issue a dealer’s license to a person eligible for such a license.3

An application may be made to a court of competent jurisdiction for a writ of mandamus that directs an issuing agency to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license that was wrongfully refused, directing that erroneous information resulting either in the refusal to issue a concealed pistol license or alien firearm license or the denial of a purchase application be corrected, or directing a law enforcement agency to approve an application to purchase a firearm or approve a dealer’s license that was wrongfully denied.4 A court must provide an expedited hearing for an application brought on one of these grounds, and a person granted a writ of mandamus shall be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.5

See our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 7.72.030(1). ⤴︎
  2. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 7.72.030(1)(a). ⤴︎
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.0975(1). ⤴︎
  4. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.0975(2). ⤴︎
  5. Id. ⤴︎