There is no statute that addresses whether a Washington citizen is legally allowed to openly carry a firearm. However, if a firearm is carried openly, RCW 9.41.270 regulates misuse of a gun, or other weapons, resulting from threatening gestures.

Concealed carry

With proper licensure, qualified citizens in the State of Washington can legally carry a concealed firearm. Disqualified citizens include, among others, persons under 21 years of age, persons who are mentally unstable, and persons convicted of serious offenses. The firearm must be concealed, and the Washington Concealed Pistol License must be carried on-person along with the handgun. State law forbids the possession of guns, whether carried openly or legally concealed, in certain places such as elementary schools and restricted areas of commercial airports. Because of reciprocal agreements among states, the holder of a Washington CPL can also carry a concealed weapon in ten other states, which currently are Idaho, North Dakota, Kansas, Ohio, Louisiana Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Utah. This list changes periodically, and the current list can be found here. When carrying a weapon in another state, it is wise to have a thorough knowledge of the laws concerning self-defense in that particular state, as some aspects vary.

Washington is one of the first states to recognize a citizen’s right to carry a firearm, as provided by the Second Amendment, and began issuing CPLs in 1961. By contrast, Illinois, the last state to recognize such rights, was ordered by the United States Supreme Court to allow its residents to carry firearms and began issuing the first concealed carry licenses in January of 2014.


While some states mandate an official course of training for holders of a CPL, and some require a minimum score on a qualification course of fire, Washington does not. However, minimum standards of prudence dictate that a person should never handle a firearm without at least some basic training. Also, no firearm should be handled without reading the owner’s manual, because different guns have different internal safety mechanisms, different loading procedures, and different usage procedures so that even experienced firearm professionals can have a negligent misfire without proper knowledge of the firearm’s operating system.

Carrying a firearm without a CPL

It is unlawful for a citizen to carry a concealed pistol with proper licensure; RCW 9.41.050 provides penalties for carrying a concealed pistol without a valid and proper license.

Protect your Second Amendment rights – Contact a lawyer today

Persons guilty of carrying a gun with intent to menace another will face criminal penalties and lose the right to carry a concealed pistol. RCW 9.41.070 conditions this crime “in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.” Such language can be widely applied to circumstances under which reasonable minds might differ, and alleged victims of such threats might overreact to the sight of a gun. In such a case, innocent carrying or proper use in executing self-defense might become misconstrued. Do not allow the fear of firearms to interfere with your rights to keep and bear arms. If you or a loved one has been accused of a gun crime involving intimidation or alarm to others, contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Nahajski Firm at (206) 621-0500 for a free and confidential initial consultation.