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Open carry in National Forest in Washington?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by BMW2, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. BMW2

    BMW2 Well-Known Member

    Is it legal to open carry when I'm hiking in a national forest in Washington state? I Know I can't in a national park, such as around Mt. Ranier but I'd like to when I hike in the Mt. Baker area.
  2. Bobarino

    Bobarino member

    yep, you're good to go in Nat'l Forests. both open carry and concealed are legal. you don't even need a permit for concealed carry as long as:

  3. BMW2

    BMW2 Well-Known Member

    Thanks, I have a carry permit but I just can't find a spot that's accessible and concealed when I'm wearing a pack. I can do it with my .38 but there's a bear warning in effect and there have been a lot of cougar sitings this year so the .38 stays at home and the .44 gets to get out of the house for a bit.
  4. dmazur

    dmazur Well-Known Member

    I've had good luck carrying a gun with an El Paso "Tanker" shoulder holster. This carries in a location down on your ribs and doesn't seem to interfere with carrying a pack like hip holsters or traditional shoulder holsters do.

    Now, you might be a little concerned about "concealed" with this design, as the holster and gun are concealed, but the diagonal strap isn't...

    IMO, if they can't see the holster or gun, it's concealed. Leather strap could be a camera... :)

    Bianchi had an old shoulder holster design, I think the X15, that might work. I no longer have mine, or I could try it out and verify this. It carried the gun vertically, and if adjusted low enough, it should permit pack straps to "miss" it at the shoulder. The X15 has no "tell-tale strap" visibility problem across the chest like the El Paso design does.

    To be fair to the El Paso "Tanker", I don't think anyone expects it to be a concealed rig.
  5. Dookie

    Dookie Well-Known Member

    Not legal is state parks though. Be careful as a lot of public/state/private forest land borders state parks.
    Cuz the grizzlies know how to read maps. :rolleyes:
  6. BMW2

    BMW2 Well-Known Member

    Gotcha on the state parks. Thanks for the tip on the shoulder rigs, I think I may go with a thigh/leg rig or a chest carry. Easy to get at and wont' get hung up on my pack, I'm going to try a few shoulder rigs on though and see what fits best.
  7. theken206

    theken206 Well-Known Member

    Im fond of drop leg rigs myself
  8. Mainsail

    Mainsail Well-Known Member

    Since when? Citation please. I'm not aware of any law that forbids firearms in State parks.
  9. dmazur

    dmazur Well-Known Member

    As far as I know, it's legal to carry one, as regulated by Washington law, but not legal to discharge one -


    So, if you have to defend yourself against a 4-legged or 2-legged predator, you could have to explain why you discharged a firearm in a State Park.

    I'm no attorney, but my guess is the intent of this is to prohibit target shooting or hunting. It would have been a lot easier if they'd just said so.

    Related: The National Park Service apparently adopted a revised rule that permits concealed carry in National Parks, in accordance with the rules for state parks in that state. So, concealed carry should be legal now in National Parks in Washington State.

    Also, the rules on open carry in Washington State are far from clear, IMO. As the State Park regs reference the concealed carry statutes, I'm guessing that open carry in State Parks may not be approved, though concealed is.

    On the thigh rigs, in my experience these beat your leg to death and involve considerable chafe and constriction. The special forces / SWAT guys have a fully-loaded vest and body armor to contend with. Those that don't have them in a holster on their vest may use a drop-leg rig, but they aren't hiking 10 or 15 miles that way.

    I really, really wish there was a concise source for this information. If you check with a Sheriff's Deputy, you'll get one answer. Check with a State Park Ranger and you'll get another.

    I think I know the rules, but at this point I'm not sure.
  10. Gray Peterson

    Gray Peterson Well-Known Member

    Open carry is legal in Washington State, so the whole idea of "concealed only" is a load of crap.
  11. Bobarino

    Bobarino member

    there is no law against carrying openly or concealed in state, county or city parks. some counties and cities do have local ordinances against it but its unenforceable because the State preempts all gun laws.

    any type of carry IS NOT YET legal in National Parks. it looks positive that it will happen, and hopefully soon, but as of right now it is not legal. look for the topic here in the legal section for updates on it. so be aware of where the boundaries are and don't carry in Nat'l Parks.

    pretty much everywhere else, save for the usual courthouse, school, jail etc, is fair game to carry openly without a permit or concealed with one. the exception is noted above in my last post. partaking in an outdoor activity (and it being reasonably believable that you are doing so) allows you to carry concealed without a permit.

    so to recap:

    National Parks = No carry

    National Forests, state parks, county parks and city parks = knock yourself out.

    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008
  12. twoclones

    twoclones Well-Known Member

    It's been a while since I researched it but Washington has a known conflict about carrying in wilderness areas. CCW laws say you are allowed while others say you cannot.
  13. okiebuckout

    okiebuckout Well-Known Member


    I spent the summer working for the BLM in NM, and spent some time hiking the mountains up north. The best thing(only thing), I carried was a regular hip holster attached to the hip belt of the pack. I couldn't even tell that was there. When I passed another hiker, I just put my arm to my side. I know I didn't need to, but I prefer not to draw any more attention to myself than needed. I think it would be a better choice than a drop leg holster. You sure won't feel it as much.
  14. BMW2

    BMW2 Well-Known Member

    Rigging something to the hip belt of my pack is an interesting thought, I already have a couple of loops sewn on to the sheath for my knife to carry it horizontally on my left. I don't know if my hip belt is sturdy enough to support a gun and holster though. Maybe I'll just buy a new pack with a sturdier belt:D
  15. MillCreek

    MillCreek Well-Known Member

    In regards to the previous post, I do something very similar. My usual wilderness carry is a 2.25" SP-101. This, and 24 extra rounds fit neatly into a digital camera carrying case that I bought at REI. The case threads onto the hip belt of my various packs and rucksacks. My carry weapon is thus concealed, protected from the elements, readily accessible and comfortable to carry. I have learned that in my hiking, backpacking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, that various forms of shoulder, IWB, OWB and hip carry are not especially comfortable by the time I am fully geared up. So this solution works well for me, but others may prefer different methods.
  16. Bobarino

    Bobarino member

    i forgot one thing. if you are hunting using black powder during that season or a bow and arrow during that season, it is illegal to carry a modern firearm. from the regs:

    and for archery:

    sorry i forgot to put those in there earlier. those are the only times you cannot carry firearms in the wilderness. hunting isn't allowed in state parks so its a moot point there.

  17. justice4all

    justice4all Well-Known Member

    The WA constitution states:

    "SECTION 24 RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS. The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men."

    I don't see how the prohibitions on merely having a sidearm for protection while bow hunting can be enforceable. Does anyone know if this matter has ever been litigated?

    Also, as I've stated before, I don't see how the national park ban is enforceable, post Heller.

    None of this should be considered legal advice.
  18. Bobarino

    Bobarino member

    it should be noted that the restrictions on modern guns while black powder or bow hunting are regulatory in nature and not actual "laws". they are enforced by issuing citations or suspending or revoking your hunting license.


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