CCW Article in Seattle Times


October 11, 2006, 02:09 PM
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 - 12:00 AM

State's concealed-weapons law among nation's most liberal

By Natalie Singer
Seattle Times staff reporter

Washington is one of the more liberal states in the country when it comes to regulating citizens who want to carry a concealed weapon, experts say. The law, often referred to as a "shall issue" law, requires law-enforcement agencies to issue a concealed-weapons permit to all citizens who meet a specific list of requirements.

To carry a concealed pistol in Washington, applicants must be at least 21 years old, have no outstanding warrants, no felony convictions and no conviction or pending trial or sentence for fourth-degree assault, coercion, stalking, second-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree criminal trespass or violation of a protective order against a family member. The permit covers concealed handguns.

Though some states require that applicants complete training to carry a concealed pistol on themselves or in a car, Washington state has no such regulations. There is a background check, and licenses must be renewed after five years.

It is legal to carry a concealed pistol without a license in your home or your business, said Bill Forth, program manager for the firearms unit of the state Department of Licensing. Washington has reciprocity with North Carolina, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Michigan to allow residents from each state to carry a concealed weapon in the others.

Statewide, there are about 239,000 active concealed-pistol licenses. King County has slightly more than 48,000, Forth said. The law typically restricts citizens from carrying guns onto school property, into bars, courthouses, jails, mental-health facilities and restricted areas in airports.

Forty states have statutes that allow people to carry concealed weapons, and at least eight other states have what are called "may issue" laws, which require applicants to demonstrate a specific need for a concealed weapon. Although Washington's law on concealed weapons is fairly detailed, it doesn't cover the responsibilities and potential liabilities that could come with using a gun for self-defense, said Paul Nickle, an instructor at Wade's Eastside Guns and Indoor Range in Bellevue. He teaches a course called "Legal Aspects of Armed Self Defense."

Whether a shooting qualifies legally as self-defense depends on the ability of and opportunity for the attacker to do the potential victim harm and whether the person threatened is in jeopardy, Nickle said. "But it's not just the legal requirements [of shooting a person] that gun owners have to consider," he said. "It's the repercussions — legally, financially, emotionally.

"The first question I'm often asked in class is, 'When is it OK to shoot?' I tell them the question should be, 'How can I avoid having to shoot?' "

Nickle said his students — some new gun owners, some seasoned — often don't realize that just because they might be in the right legally if they shoot in self-defense, they could end up being liable in civil court. His class is designed to fill in some of the gaps in the state's law on self-defense.

"The law is still very gray when it comes to using deadly force," Nickle said. "You have to ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if you do shoot."

Natalie Singer: 206-464-2704

Copyright 2006 The Seattle Times CompanyConcealed weapons
For more information on Washington state's concealed-weapons law, visit these sites:
services/gun_permits; or

Ok, "The Law typically restricts"???? Typically???? Huh????

It's a good thing they don't mention that open carry is legal for anyone. Just think of the froth from this readership that would be coming our way.

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October 11, 2006, 02:12 PM
I am sure that this story is related to this, for those of you who haven't been following it.

October 11, 2006, 02:25 PM
"The law typically restricts" means that there are some very narrow and nitpicky exceptions to the prohibited places listed -- for instance, it is legal to have a gun on school grounds "while picking up or dropping off a student" if you have a concealed-carry permit, but apart from that narrow exception, carry is typically prohibited on school grounds. Carry in bars has a similar nitpicky nuance: it is prohibited to carry into the "21 or over" section of an establishment which sells alcohol, but it is perfectly legal to carry into (for example) a restaurant which also serves booze, provided there's no "21-or-Over" signage at the door. So carrying in a bar is typically prohibited, with one very nuanced exception.

I think the reporter's wording was excellent, considering the paper's space limitations. I also think the article is a very accurate short summary of some very complicated laws. The reporter obviously worked hard to get it right. Kudos to her!


October 11, 2006, 04:01 PM
"You have to ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if you do shoot."

Or "afford the consequences".
How can the CCW laws be loosened? Paperclip an amendment to the back of a "miniature USA flags for crippled children" bill? It's too bad WA is so strict on school property carry and don't recognize Oregon's CHL (and vice versa).

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