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Restoration of firearms privileges in Washington state: Q & A

Washington State has a very detailed law on the restoration of the right to possess a firearm after those rights are post following certain criminal convictions. If you are concerned about getting your gun rights pack, it's important to know how these details apply to you.

The general rule is that all gun rights are lost when there is a conviction for a "serious offense:" a defined in section 9.41.010 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW).

Q: Which offenses are considered "serious offenses" that automatically result in the loss of gun rights upon conviction?

A: The definition of serious offense in RCW 9.041.010 includes numerous violent, sex or drug offenses. There are more than 15 felonies listed in the statute. The violent offenses broadly include "any crime of violence." But there are also several specific crimes that are called out, such as vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

Q: If you get probation or the charges are later dismissed, do you still lose your gun rights?

A: That depends. Generally the answer is yes. But RCW 9.41.040(4)(a) allows for the possibility that for certain offenses that result in probation, firearms privileges may not be lost in the first place.

Q: What about domestic violence cases?

A: Washington passed a law in 2014 that prohibits anyone who is subjected to a protective order in a domestic setting from lawfully possessing a gun.

Q: What are the potential consequences of possessing a firearm if your privileges for have not been restored?

A: You could be convicted of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm, which is a class B felony under Washington law. You could also lose your job, if you work in a setting - such as a military base - where a gun offense on your record would preclude employment. The statute that applies is RCW 941.040.

Q: What is the process for getting gun rights restored?

A: Gun rights can be restored by pardon or by a court order. In practice, pardon is not a common practice. The most realistic route to restoration is therefore to seek a court order.

Q: How do you get a court order to restore gun rights?

A: The most effective way is to work with an attorney who is experienced in helping people regain their gun rights.

Q: Is there a waiting period for a court order?

A: Yes. Before you can get a court order to restore your gun rights, five years must have past for a felony offense. The waiting period for a misdemeanor is three years.

Q: What about expungement or record sealing?

A: This can be another way to get gun rights restored. We will try to discuss it further in an upcoming post.

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