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Do I need a background check to buy a gun in Washington state?

On Behalf of | Jun 12, 2023 | Criminal Defense, Firearms rights |

People have debated whether states should require a background check for individuals who want to purchase firearms nationwide for years. In Washington state, a person must pass a background check to buy a gun.

This law aims to ensure that these types of weapons do not fall into the hands of people who are or could be dangerous to themselves or others.

What does the law require?

Washington state requires that anyone who wants to buy a firearm, whether by private sale or at a gun show, undergo a background check. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducts the background checks. This mandatory procedure aims to identify people who are not allowed to own firearms.

What does the background check include?

The background check reviews a person’s criminal history, mental health records and other relevant factors that predict a higher risk of violence or criminal behavior. The process is simple for the person trying to buy a firearm.

Background check process

When an individual attempts to purchase a gun, they must fill out a form with their personal information, which the licensed firearm dealer (the gun seller) submits to NICS, which conducts the background check. If the person does not pass the background check, the seller cannot sell a firearm to that person.

Washington was the first state in the nation to pass a requirement of universal background checks for firearms by voter initiative. People have long debated whether every state should have a universal background check for individuals who want to purchase a gun. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., require background checks for purchasing firearms.