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Know your rights before you buy or sell a gun

The Second Amendment of the Constitution protects the right to bear arms. In recent years, discussions have remained ongoing regarding this often controversial topic. If you've purchased or sold a gun in the past, you likely agree with those who believe we should protect our Second Amendment rights at all costs.

If you own a firearm, you might be aware of state and federal laws that govern such transactions. Keeping updated on current laws and regulations is obviously one easy way to avoid trouble regarding guns. Whether you're a licensed firearms dealer in Washington or you carry and/or use guns for various reasons, understanding the law is often key to averting problems.

Laws vary depending on type of firearm

It can be difficult for someone less familiar with guns to tell them apart and understand the different uses for various types of firearms. Just as styles and sizes of guns vary, so do laws, depending on a number of factors.

Here's a basic review of gun laws in this state:

  • No permit necessary: If you are buying a shotgun or rifle, there's no need to obtain a license or permit.
  • Regulations vary for pistols: You must complete various background checks, and you must acquire conceal and carry permits and other juridical approvals before you can buy, sell or deliver a pistol in Washington.
  • Police may put a hold on your sale: If you have an outstanding arrest warrant, pending criminal charges or mental health issue, police may place a 30-day hold on your pistol purchase.
  • Triple duty applies: The completion of all paperwork regarding a pistol transaction must be in triplicate. The purchaser retains a copy, the dealer keeps one (for six years) and the final copy goes to the police chief or sheriff in the purchaser's resident jurisdiction.

If a salesperson or law enforcement agent told you that you were required to obtain a permit or license to buy a shotgun or rifle, you were misinformed. If you were accused (or charged) with a firearms violation, you can take steps to rectify the situation in court.

Private transfer: Special laws may apply

You might wonder if it's okay for, say, a grandfather to leave his favorite gun to his grandson in his final will and testament. The answer is: it might be. Executors and beneficiaries may, in fact, acquire a firearm by law through a valid distribution of assets process, but where handguns are concerned, special rules apply. The following are other gun law facts:

  • No state laws for possession: The state does not list any requirements for you to keep a legal rifle, handgun or shotgun in your possession.
  • Carry is different from possess: To carry a concealed firearm is much different from possessing one. If you leave your house or fixed place of business, you must have a license to carry a concealed pistol in this state.
  • Age of gun matters: If the firearm you are carrying happens to be an antique, then conceal/carry rules do not apply.
  • Absolutely no machine guns or parts: Did you know that, not only is it against the law to keep a machine gun in your possession, it is also illegal to have any part that could be used to repair, manufacture or fire a machine gun as well?

Whether you're an avid firearm collector, keep a variety of guns in your home for hunting or target shooting purposes, or are in the business of buying and/or selling guns, many situations can arise where you wind up facing trouble with the law.

Even if you know you have followed all state and federal regulations regarding any firearm or firearm transaction in question, it's typically best to cooperate and be as polite as possible during any search, seizure or investigation set forth by police.

A criminal defense attorney can closely scrutinize the actions of law enforcement agents to determine if there has been any violation of your personal rights. If you wind up facing criminal charges, an experienced attorney can help you protect your rights and minimize the potential negative repercussions of your situation.

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