There are a variety of charges in Washington state courts which are related to firearms. For example, aiming a firearm (loaded or unloaded) at or towards any human being, or willfully discharging a firearm in a public place, is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to five thousand dollars. If a person is injured by this act, a charge of felony assault will likely be filed (see section regarding various assault degrees).
Except while in your home or “fixed place of business,” Washington law prohibits carrying a pistol concealed on your person without a license to carry a concealed pistol. This applies to carrying or placing a loaded pistol in any vehicle, unless you have a concealed pistol license and the pistol is on your person, you are with the pistol in the vehicle, or the pistol is locked in the vehicle and concealed from outside view. If you were to violate these provisions, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. There are exceptions to these restrictions, for persons in law enforcement positions, persons in the gun trade, enrolled members in target shooting clubs, etc. For more information, see RCW 9.41.060.
A “firearm enhancement” can also be used to add to the consequences of a felony, and in many circumstances, the firearm enhancement is more severe than the punishment for the underlying offense. For a class A felony, the firearm enhancement adds a period of five years to the confinement in the standard range. For a class B felony, a firearm enhancement adds a period of three years to the standard range. And for a class C felony, a firearm enhancement will add eighteen months to the standard range. If there has been a deadly weapon enhancement in an offender's past (after July 23, 1995), a firearm enhancement will be doubled. All firearm enhancements are mandatory, must be served in total confinement (i.e. not partial confinement like work release, etc.), and must run consecutively to all other sentencing. A firearm enhancement does not apply to the following felonies, presumably because the charges themselves include an element of possession of a firearm: possession of a machine gun, possessing a stolen firearm, drive-by shooting, theft of a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm in the first and second degree, and use of a machine gun in a felony.
Loss of Firearm Rights
In Washington, a conviction for any felony results in a loss of your right to possess a firearm. A conviction for a domestic violence misdemeanor also causes you to lose your right to possess firearms. Reinstatement of your right to possess firearms must be obtained by the Superior Court before you can lawfully possess a firearm again.
Unlawful Possession of Firearms
Whether you are an adult or a juvenile, you can be charged with the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, if you own or have in your possession a firearm after you have been convicted (or found not guilty by reason of insanity) of any “serious offense” defined in Washington law RCW 9.41. This includes a crime of violence, a felony VUCSA violation, or other felonies. Unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree is a class B felony. If you possess a firearm and you have been prohibited from doing so because of a domestic violence related conviction (including misdemeanor assault), or other felonies not encompassed within the “serious offense” provisions. This charge is a class C felony.
If you are under the age of eighteen, and found to have possessed a firearm unlawfully (under either of the charges mentioned above), or you have committed an offense while armed with a firearm when a motor vehicle served an integral function, the Department of Licensing shall be notified and your privilege to drive will be revoked for at least one year.
Restoration of Firearm Rights
Washington law permits you to petition the Superior Court for reinstatement of your firearm rights when you meet certain guidelines, including a period of time without additional convictions (five years for a felony and three years for a misdemeanor), and if no pending charges are against you. If you have been convicted of a class A felony or a sex offense which prohibits firearm rights, you cannot petition for restoration of your right to possess a firearm.