In 2018, Washington voters approved a voter initiative that, among other things, increased the minimum age to purchase handguns and semiautomatic assault rifles to 21, and now generally prohibits anyone from transferring a semiautomatic rifle to anyone under 21.1

Washington law provides that, unless certain exceptions apply,2 a person between the ages of 18 and 21 may possess a handgun only:3

  • In the person’s “place of abode;”
  • At the person’s fixed place of business; or
  • On real property under his or her control.

Similarly, a person who is between the ages of 18 and 21 can possess a semiautomatic assault rifle only:

  • In the person’s home
  • At the person’s fixed place of business
  • On real property under the person’s control
  • Outside these areas, provided that the gun is unloaded and is either in secure storage or secured with a trigger lock for the specific purpose of:
    • moving to a new home
    • traveling between the person’s home and real property under his or her control
    • selling or transferring the firearm4

In addition, an applicant for a concealed pistol license must be 21 years of age or older.5

In Washington, a person under age 18 may not own or possess a firearm, unless he or she is:

  • In attendance at a hunter’s safety course or a firearms safety course;
  • Engaging in practice in the use of a firearm or target shooting at an established range authorized by the governing body of the jurisdiction in which such range is located or any other area where the discharge of a firearm is not prohibited;
  • Engaging in an organized competition involving the use of a firearm;
  • Participating in or practicing for a performance by an organized group that uses firearms as a part of the performance;
  • Hunting or trapping under a valid license;
  • In an area where the discharge of a firearm is permitted, when the individual is not trespassing and is either:
    • At least 14 years of age, having been issued a hunter safety certificate, and using a lawful firearm other than a handgun; or
    • Under the supervision of a parent, guardian, or other adult approved for the purpose by the parent or guardian;
  • Traveling with an unloaded firearm to or from any activity described above;
  • On real property under the control of his or her parent, other relative, or legal guardian and has permission of the parent or legal guardian to possess a firearm;
  • At his or her residence and, with the permission of his or her parent or legal guardian, in possession of a firearm for the purpose of lawful self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property; or
  • A member of the armed forces of the United States, National Guard, or organized reserves, when on duty.6

Federal age restrictions impose stricter limits.

See our Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Washington Initiative No. 1639, Section 13, amending Wash. Rev. Code Ann § 9.41.240(1). ⤴︎
  2. See Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.050 or 9.41.060 for additional exceptions. ⤴︎
  3. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.240. ⤴︎
  4. Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 9.41.240(3). ⤴︎
  5. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 9.41.070(1)(c). ⤴︎
  6. Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 9.41.040(2)(a)(iii), 9.41.042. ⤴︎