5 Steps to Restore Your Gun Rights in Washington State

Your right to possess a gun in Washington State will be suspended if you have a conviction for a felony crime. A conviction for a misdemeanor involving domestic violence will also take away your right to possess a gun.

The right to possess a gun, and the process for restoring the right to possess a gun, in Washington State is often misunderstood. In Washington State, a person's civil rights are restored after all sentence conditions are satisfied and probation ends. For a felony conviction civil rights are restored when a document called a Certificate of Discharge is filed with the court. However, this does not restore the right to possess a gun or any type of firearm. The right to possess a firearm is separate, and must be specifically restored by a court.

Similarly, having a criminal conviction expunged does not restore the right to possess a gun. In fact, when a court expunges a criminal conviction the Order specifically states the right to possess a firearm is not restored.

In Washington State, there are 5 steps, or criteria, that must be satisfied to restore your right to possess a gun.

1. To be eligible to restore your right to possess a firearm, you can not have any criminal charges pending against you. This means if you are currently charged with any crime in a court in Washington State, a federal court, or a court in any other state, you are ineligible to have your right to possess a gun restored.

2. The required amount of time has passed.
Your right to possess a firearm can be restored in Washington State if at least five consecutive years have passed without being denied of any crime. The five year period applies if the conviction that suspended your right to possess a firearm was a class B or class C felony. If you were persuaded of a misdemeanor that suspended your right to possess a gun, then three years must pass before you can have your right restored.

3. You were not convicted of a crime that permanently prohibited you from possessing a firearm.
Convictions for certain crimes take away your right to possess a gun permanently. In Washington State, if you were convicted of a class A felony (most serious), you can not have your firearm possession right restored. Additionally, if you were convicted of a crime in another state or in federal court that would institute a class A felony in Washington State, or which has a maximum sentence of twenty years or longer, Washington State law does not permit your gun rights to be restored. The last category is sex crimes. If you have a conviction for an offense classified as a sex crime under Washington law, then a Washington State court will not restore your right to possess a gun or other firearm.

4. There is no court order currently in force that prohibits you from possessing a firearm.
Conviction of a crime is not the only means by which your right to possess a gun in Washington State can be taken away. Some criminal court orders, and certain civil court orders such as a domestic violence protection order, will prohibit possessing a gun.

5. You have never involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for treatment.
If you were ever committed to a mental health facility without your consent, then you are not eligible to have your right to possess a firearm restored in Washington State.

As you can see, you can have your right to possess a gun restored in Washington State if you meet the criteria. In most cases, these 5 steps take only a few weeks to complete.