I need help understanding gun registration in WA state.


December 21, 2008, 04:25 PM
This has been unclear to me forever and it seems that most gun store employees only speculate the answers they give me. This is what I understand to be true...

1. Gun registration is not required or necessary, as an action taken by the gun owner, in WA state.
2. A gun sold from an FFL, which requires all the necessary NICS paperwork, is automatically "registered".
I may be wrong, but I have always assumed that the term "registered" means that the buyer's info and the gun's info is kept on a list held by the state gov't.

Because of point number 2 above, I avoid buying many of the guns I want through an FFL. That means that I avoid buying most of the guns that I really want, because finding what I want from an individual seller is often very tough. Just recently, I was told by a salesman at a gun shop that the registration information for the gun is "required" to be destroyed after 7 days and that it is only for processing the background check. I have not been able to confirm that this is true. If that is true, I feel somewhat liberated to buy what I want :)

Can anyone tell me what is the truth about gun registration in WA state, or lead me to the place to find that information?

Many thanks!

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December 21, 2008, 04:52 PM
When buying a gun from a dealer you have to fill out a Form 4473. This form is held by the shop and doesn't go anywhere. You are also entered into their "Bound Book" which also doesn't go anywhere unless the shop goes out of business. If going out of business and surrendering their license, the Bound Book is sent back to the BATFE for archiving. AFAIK this information is not entered into any database.
If you want to consider this as "registration". so be it. You will have to buy all of your guns from private parties (and then, you will need to find sellers that don't want to keep track of where their "registered" guns go.) I know when I sell a gun, I want a name that I can pass on if the ATF comes knocking at my door.
Washington State has no form of "registration" that I know of.

December 21, 2008, 05:11 PM
Myunderstanding isthat the specific gun information is not called into NICS. Only the fact that YOU purchased a gun is called in.

While NICS is supposed to destroy the information after a short time, the FFL must keep his copy of the 4473 for 20 years. That information is available to BATFE and other law enforcement only upon a search.

There is no registration requirement in WA State.


December 21, 2008, 07:27 PM
Well I used to be a FFL dealer in Wa, that is til I moved to Idaho. The info
mentioned above is correct except in Wa state the FFL dealer must submit a blue form to Olympia. On this blue form is all the buyers info, the type of gun , serial #'s , where he bought it, etc. Everything is on this form and it stays in Olympia forever. When the WSP does a background check on an indiv. they access this info by computer. I had a close friend who got pulled over while he was carrying. Seems the handgun was given to him by his sister, so the WSP took it. He got it back once his sister filled out the proper forms. So yes if you buy a handgun in Wa. it stays on file in Olympia til hell freezes over. That's why I now reside in Idaho. Good luck

December 21, 2008, 07:32 PM
What I thought I understood about WA law was:

If you buy a rifle, it is not registered with anybody.

But if you buy a handgun, the WSP does have a record of it. I have no handguns left from WA state since I moved, partly for that reason.


December 21, 2008, 08:07 PM
Grimjaw You are correct only handguns are registered with the state not rifles. Not yet

Art SC
December 21, 2008, 08:50 PM
"Registration?" What the...?!!

Sorry, I live in a free state. :neener:

Just kidding ya. I hope you find out what you need to know soon, though!

Dr. Fresh
December 22, 2008, 01:28 AM
Sorry Grimjaw, but that's incorrect. Washington has NO registration.

December 22, 2008, 04:06 AM
scrofcheck, thank you very much for chiming in with your knowledge.

So, basically, my "fears" of registration are founded, but only for handguns, correct? I feel much better knowing what the law is, and hearing that rifles are not registered as are handguns. It seems that this is really well hidden information!

Now, what about a pistol caliber carbine? Is that classified as a rifle, as far as the registration is concerned?? I ask because I want to buy one.

Sorry, I live in a free state.

Just kidding ya. I hope you find out what you need to know soon, though!
Art SC, yes, I know exactly what you mean!!! :)

scrofcheck, I am shocked to hear that they will actually take a gun that is not properly registered to you! I'm guessing the sister had to fill out the paper work to transfer the gun to her brother's name for the registration? That makes me angry!

Dr. Fresh
December 22, 2008, 05:00 AM
There is absolutely NO gun registration in Washington state. Federal law applies just like everywhere else, so you have to fill out a 4473 and all that and there's a 5-day waiting period on handguns if you don't have your CPL.

But beyond that there is NO registration. I should know, I live there.

December 22, 2008, 05:19 AM
Close. There is no REQUIRED registration in Washington. There is a voluntary system of registration which is used by very few gun owners.

Dr. Fresh
December 22, 2008, 05:52 AM
I know plenty of gun owners in this state and I've never heard of such a thing.

December 22, 2008, 09:32 AM
Dr. Fresh, I lived there, too, as recently as January 2008.

I did not say that handguns were registered. I said the WSP kept a record of the purchase from the dealer (FFL). There is no requirement (so far as I know) to record or report purchases of handguns between private parties.

It is my opinion that this constitutes a form of registration, although it is hardly effective as the chain can be broken at any time by a sale between private parties at one of the Washington Arms Collectors shows, etc. It's about as effective as WA state's 5-day waiting period for handguns (which doesn't necessarily apply to CPL holders...)

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9.41.110, section 9.

Now, the WA state application to purchase a handgun, while sent to the chief of police, is supposed to be destroyed by them. From what I read the application is considered a separate document from the record of purchase, but IANAL.


Below links to a more extensive WA .gov page dealing with firearms regulation within the state.



December 22, 2008, 08:13 PM

Private Disposition/Transfer form for WA State...

Yep silly, but there are some pistols on them.

December 22, 2008, 09:08 PM
MD, but is that mandatory or voluntary? I didn't look it up.

EDIT: Duh, sorry, I should have read the form. It says "voluntary" at top in bold print. ;)


December 22, 2008, 09:39 PM
Dr. Fresh If you live in Wa and you bought a handgun do you remember that blue form you signed and initialed ? Yes you also signed the 4473 but the blue form has 3 copies. 1 copy the FFl keeps , the other goes to the chief of police in the county you reside in and the 3 rd goes to Olympia. It may not be called gun registration but everyone has a record of your purchase. It's the LAW.

And yes the sister filled out some state transfer forms to say she gave the gun to her brother. Gun was then returned to him.

December 22, 2008, 11:53 PM
How about a pistol caliber carbine? Is that classified as a rifle, as far as registration is concerned?? (Or even otherwise?)

scrofcheck, just so I'm clear, rifles bought from an FFL are not registered, right? I keep asking only because I am shocked and relieved.

December 22, 2008, 11:58 PM
rifles bought from an FFL are not registered, right?

A rifle is a rifle, even if it's in a pistol caliber. The purchase is only going to be recorded if they also had to do the handgun form. I bought two PC9s (9mm carbines) while I was in WA, and neither required the triplicate form or 5-day wait.


December 23, 2008, 12:44 AM
Sorry if this is a "dense" question, but isn't a carbine considered neither a rifle nor a pistol?

Maybe the only way to know if they will need to fill out the handgun form (especially with a carbine) is to ask them before starting the process? I wish there were just a simple answer, so I didn't have to remember to get that question out there any time I buy a non-handgun.

I appreciate all the help.

December 23, 2008, 01:55 AM

i've purchased a few new pistols at dealers in WA and have never had to fill out any other form aside from the 4473. there was no mysterious "blue form" and there was certainly no application to purchase a handgun. just the 4473, a phone call, show my CPL and pay, and out the door i went. i've witnessed many a pistol sale in the stores/ranges and still no blue form for handguns.

i'd like to hear a first hand account from someone who had to fill out this blue form.


Dr. Fresh
December 23, 2008, 02:19 AM
x2 it's been a while but I cannot remember filling out any kind of special form.

December 23, 2008, 04:12 AM
Bobarino, you might have circumvented the form by virtue of your CPL. I'm not certain. But there is a form that dealers are supposed to have you fill out with the information specified in the links I provided. I had to fill out that form in addition to the 4473 at Sportman's Warehouse in Kennewick numerous times. I don't remember if I was able to avoid filling it out once I got my CPL.

Guys, I'm not making any of this up. Read the links on the WA .gov sites if you don't believe me. Better yet, write or call the WA DoL and get it straight from the horse's mouth.


December 23, 2008, 10:59 AM
I remember using the 'Blue Form' when I worked at Warshal's in Seattle back in the '90s. Haven't bought a handgun from an FFL for years, so don't know if they are used on all handgun purchases (with or without CPL).

December 23, 2008, 12:13 PM
As Grimjaw stated write or call the WA DoL and get it straight from the horse's mouth.

December 23, 2008, 03:19 PM
A gun sold from an FFL, which requires all the necessary NICS paperwork, is automatically "registered".
That's not registration. If I remember correctly, the NICS office is required to discard any information about the transaction as soon as the call is over. The 4473 is kept on file at the FFL, but that is for the FFLs records, not registration. There is absolutely 0 registration in WA state. You couldn't voluntarily register a gun, because there is no place that stores that information.

December 23, 2008, 04:08 PM
You couldn't voluntarily register a gun, because there is no place that stores that information.

My dispatch center knows that some people have guns registered to them. I don't know how they know it or where the records are kept; but I do know that the Sheriff's office has a form you can use to voluntarily register a gun. The SO takes it, and I don't know where the database is that it goes to from there--but my dispatch center does.

December 24, 2008, 01:48 AM
Handguns bought from a WA dealer are registered. Here is where you can find the relevant law:


There is a three-part form used for this. One copy goes to the CLEO where the purchaser lives, one is kept by the dealer, and the third goes to the Dept. of Licensing in Olympia.

There is also a separate form to use for private party sales, but it is optional. Back when I worked for a gun dealer the legislature hadn't authorized funds to hire people to enter information from the forms into the data base, so the forms just collected in storage. I don't know if the situation has changed.

December 25, 2008, 12:13 AM
not required, but some people do the paperwork...

December 25, 2008, 04:01 PM
Had a similar question. I have a buddy who currently possesses one of my handguns that I bought in Oregon. He will be shipping it to me when he reaches his new duty station in North Carolina. Will my weapon go through whatever FFL process of paperwork to getting my gun back if I already own it? Or is there any other way to ship it back to my possession other than to maybe pick it up whenever I get back to North Carolina for a trip.

December 26, 2008, 12:45 PM
If he ships it via FEDEX or UPS, it must go to an FFL in Washington, and that FFL in Washington will transfer it to you via a 4473, the state form, NICS check, waiting period and everything else. Since it is your gun, and you are only "loaning" it to him, you can go and retrieve your firearm from him in person.

However, his transportation of that firearm into his state of residence, since he has "otherwise obtained" that firearm from an out of state resident, is a felony under 18 USC 922 because there is no "loan" exception for that subsection of the law:

§ 922. Unlawful acts
(a) It shall be unlawful—
(3) for any person, other than a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to transport into or receive in the State where he resides (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, the State where it maintains a place of business) any firearm purchased or otherwise obtained by such person outside that State, except that this paragraph (A) shall not preclude any person who lawfully acquires a firearm by bequest or intestate succession in a State other than his State of residence from transporting the firearm into or receiving it in that State, if it is lawful for such person to purchase or possess such firearm in that State, (B) shall not apply to the transportation or receipt of a firearm obtained in conformity with subsection (b)(3) of this section, and (C) shall not apply to the transportation of any firearm acquired in any State prior to the effective date of this chapter;

December 27, 2008, 11:51 AM
So I'm and Oregon resident, but I'm stationed in Washington does that mean I can't or not supposed to bring my firearms into my state that I live in?

December 27, 2008, 02:02 PM
If you are Military on active duty, you draw a bye on residency.

December 27, 2008, 06:11 PM
So I'm and Oregon resident, but I'm stationed in Washington does that mean I can't or not supposed to bring my firearms into my state that I live in?

Sorry if my post above confused you. It's your gun. You can bring it with you wherever you travel to as long as it is legal for you to possess it at your destination. The fact that you are military has no bearing on that. If you were just Joe Smoe civilian either traveling to Washington on vacation or moving to Washington you could bring the gun with you. Although, except for very limited circumstances you could not take it to New York City because it is not legal for you to possess it there without the license. Washington State and 95% of the United States is fine.

What is illegal is for you to ACQUIRE a gun from an out of state source and bring it to your state of residence. Retrieving YOUR gun, that you have already legally acquired, from a storage location to bring with you is just fine.

What is a very gray area in the law is the fact that you left your gun with someone else who is now transporting your gun, without your presence, across state lines. That appears to be in violation of 18 USC 922(a)(3). It would seem like they are violating that section by taking the gun with them to their home state, because they ACQUIRED the gun from you, an out of state source, and there is no "loaning" exception to 18 USC 922(a)(3). In other words, it's OK for you to loan the gun to someone who is not a same state resident, but as soon as they carry that gun back into their home state, they have violated the law.

Hope that clears it up. Also, as deadin pointed out, your military orders to Washington State, plus you active duty military ID card make you, for the purposes of all firearms transactions, a resident of the state of Washington, that is Federal law. In Washington, you do not have to switch your driver's license, but you can take your orders and ID card to the Washington Department of Licensing and get yourself a Washington State photo ID, which will make purchasing firearms in WA from FFL's much easier. AND if you get your Washington CPL, it does away with the waiting period for handgun purchases. Also, without the CPL (or one honored by WA) you cannot carry your handgun loaded in your vehicle - rifles are shotguns cannot be carried loaded in vehicles with or without the CPL.

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