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Old July 25, 2009, 12:32 PM   #1
JustinL
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A Couple Of Washington State Questions

1. I want to make sure I have this right.

From RCW 9.41.050:

"(2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle."

I was driving the other day and was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. (How dumb of me. I was just going down the street but I know that accidents still happen. Oh, well.) My friend was in the passenger's seat. I had my 1911 in a holster stuffed in a crevice of my seat. It was in relatively plain view a few inches behind the shifter, although down lower than the seat. The officer said nothing about it. I'm not sure if it was because he was on the passenger's side and didn't see it because of my friend's leg, or if he just didn't care. As far as I know it is fine for me to have it in plain view like that since I have a CPL. Am I correct about this? If so, does it matter if it's loaded and chambered?

2. I still can't find any information regarding carrying a rifle and/or shotgun in a gun rack when not related to hunting or a specific activity. In Washington, if I want to just drive to the hardware store with a rifle in the rack, can I?

Thanks,
Justin
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Old July 25, 2009, 08:53 PM   #2
NavyLT
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Washington is an open carry state. With your CPL, the only restriction to firearms in your vehicle is that you cannot have a loaded rifle or shotgun in your vehicle. That is in the hunting section. You can also carry your handgun and/or rifle/shotgun openly outside the vehicle as well.

The only time you are REQUIRED to conceal your handgun is if you leave it in the vehicle unattended - then it must be concealed and at least the vehicle locked. An unloaded rifle or shotgun carried in a visible rack is no problem at all, even if left unattended. That wouldn't necessarily be the smartest thing to do, though, do to enticing theft.
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Old July 26, 2009, 07:58 AM   #3
Bismarck357
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I live right across the colombia river from Longview Washington. I'm there at least twice a week, I open carry both on the street and while driving. Last year I got into a little fender-bender and was open carryin'. The police that showed up did'nt say a word about it,except for the comment" Hey, thats a nice S&W, what model is that?"
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Old July 26, 2009, 08:35 AM   #4
pax
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Quote:
I was driving the other day and was pulled over for not wearing a seat belt. (How dumb of me. I was just going down the street but I know that accidents still happen. Oh, well.) My friend was in the passenger's seat. I had my 1911 in a holster stuffed in a crevice of my seat. It was in relatively plain view a few inches behind the shifter, although down lower than the seat. The officer said nothing about it. I'm not sure if it was because he was on the passenger's side and didn't see it because of my friend's leg, or if he just didn't care. As far as I know it is fine for me to have it in plain view like that since I have a CPL. Am I correct about this? If so, does it matter if it's loaded and chambered?

2. I still can't find any information regarding carrying a rifle and/or shotgun in a gun rack when not related to hunting or a specific activity. In Washington, if I want to just drive to the hardware store with a rifle in the rack, can I?
1) As the others noted, open carry is legal in Washington state, whether you have a CPL or not. However, given the wording of the law (and given the realities of police work), you are technically breaking the law if you have a loaded gun anywhere except attached to your body, or in an enclosed container (such as the glove box, a purse, or the closed center console). So open carry in a holster on your body = legal, but leaving the firearm lying around the car = not legal.

Besides which, a loose firearm - even one wedged between the seats or tucked under a knee - can very easily fly free during a collision. Since some criminals intiate their encounters with their intended victims by causing minor collisions so the victims get out of the car, I think you're generally going to be better off with the gun placed somewhere where it cannot fly free if the car is jolted.

2) That's under Fish & Game laws (yes, even when you're not hunting, sorry), and the answer is thus: you cannot carry a loaded long gun in the vehicle. Period, full stop. Further, the definition of "loaded" includes empty chamber, full magazine -- if the ammunition is attached to the firearm, the firearm is loaded under this definition. So it's legally okay to have 'em visible in the rack, but not okay to have them loaded or with ammunition attached to them.

Again as a practical matter, with a firearm visible to anyone who walked past the car, I'd worry about smash & grab thieves and opportunitistic thieves.

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Old July 26, 2009, 10:51 AM   #5
NavyLT
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RCW 9.41.050:
Quote:
(2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
Notice that (i), (ii), (iii) are separated by an "OR" and not by an "and". This means that a loaded handgun is legal in a vehicle if:
(i) the pistol is on the licensee's person
OR
(ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times (REGARDLESS OF THE LOCATION OF THAT PISTOL, as long as the licensee is within the vehicle)
OR
(iii) if the licensee leaves the vehicle unattended, the handgun is concealed and at least the vehicle is locked.

Common Myths:
There is no requirement for a loaded handgun to be on the licensee's person IF the licensee is within the vehicle.

There is no requirement for a non-licensee to keep an unloaded handgun in a case or in a wrapper in a vehicle.
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Old July 26, 2009, 08:50 PM   #6
JustinL
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Thank you for the input, everyone. My questions are answered.

-Justin
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Old July 28, 2009, 12:05 AM   #7
JustinL
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I should have picked a better example for the gun rack question. I was mostly wondering if it is actually legal because I heard a rumor that it's not, regardless of whether or not the gun is unloaded. I agree that leaving them in the vehicle unattended is not a good idea. I was thinking of instances where I might bring a rifle over to a friend's house to show him or something specific like that, point A to point B. My motivation is also somewhat political, reminding people that there is plenty of interest in responsible gun ownership in our country. I also drive old Volkswagen buses exclusively. I like the idea of someone being confused seeing a bus with a couple of guns hanging in the rear window.

-Justin
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Old July 28, 2009, 09:43 AM   #8
NavyLT
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Yes, the gun rack is legal.

As far as I know, it is also legal to leave the rifles/shotguns in full view when leaving your vehicle because RCW 9.41.050 only covers handguns.

No loaded rifles/shotguns in a vehicle, period, at any time (actually I think there MIGHT be an exception for disabled hunters, but I am not sure on that one).

Dang, I am slipping, now I am posting "I thinks" instead of statutes.

Ha! I was right!

RCW 77.15.460
Loaded firearm in vehicle — Unlawful use or possession — Penalty.

(1) A person is guilty of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle if:

(a) The person carries, transports, conveys, possesses, or controls a rifle or shotgun in or on a motor vehicle; and

(b) The rifle or shotgun contains shells or cartridges in the magazine or chamber, or is a muzzle-loading firearm that is loaded and capped or primed.

(2) A person is guilty of unlawful use of a loaded firearm if the person negligently shoots a firearm from, across, or along the maintained portion of a public highway.

(3) Unlawful possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle or unlawful use of a loaded firearm is a misdemeanor.

(4) This section does not apply if the person:

(a) Is a law enforcement officer who is authorized to carry a firearm and is on duty within the officer's respective jurisdiction;

(b) Possesses a disabled hunter's permit as provided by RCW 77.32.237 and complies with all rules of the department concerning hunting by persons with disabilities.

(5) For purposes of this section, a firearm shall not be considered loaded if the detachable clip or magazine is not inserted in or attached to the firearm.
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Old July 28, 2009, 09:59 AM   #9
MLeake
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Man, I miss childhood years, in a small town...

... half the vehicles were pickups, and at least half the pickups had gun racks, often as not sporting a 12ga, a .30-30, or both, and one never heard of thefts from cars.

Actually, half the vehicles were a mix of pickups, jeeps, scouts, and SUV predecessors (big wagoneer, old Bronco and Blazer).

To get a bit more on point, though - with regard to keeping the gun wedged between seat cushion and whatever - I believe one of the FBI agents in the Miami shootout everybody likes to cite had actually placed his gun either on the seat, or partially wedged between seat and seat back prior to the vehicle collision that started the whole ball rolling. I don't believe he managed to find his gun in the gunfight that ensued. My memory may be faulty, though.
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Old August 18, 2009, 03:52 AM   #10
spottedeagle
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I also have a question..

Is it also legal then to carry a rifle down the street shouldered? I've read through the washington state laws on open carry but all I can find is information on open carrying of handguns... is this also true of rifles?
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Old August 18, 2009, 09:56 AM   #11
NavyLT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spottedeagle
I also have a question..

Is it also legal then to carry a rifle down the street shouldered? I've read through the washington state laws on open carry but all I can find is information on open carrying of handguns... is this also true of rifles?
Yes. Just make sure it doesn't point at anyone, even accidently.
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Old August 19, 2009, 08:26 AM   #12
Marty Hayes
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I would caution, that RCW. 9A.41.270 has not been clearly interpreted by our courts, and thus the circumstances that might "warrant alarm" when one is carrying a gun openly in public has not been established. Persoally, I would make sure the gun is concealed, as I care not to be the test case.
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Old August 19, 2009, 12:35 PM   #13
NavyLT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marty Hayes
I would caution, that RCW. 9A.41.270 has not been clearly interpreted by our courts, and thus the circumstances that might "warrant alarm" when one is carrying a gun openly in public has not been established. Persoally, I would make sure the gun is concealed, as I care not to be the test case.
There have been test cases. The Supreme Court of Washington has ruled in the past that a handgun carried in a holster and/or a rifle carried such that it is not pointing at anyone does not WARRANT alarm. There is no grey area. ALL the elements of RCW 9A.41.270 must be met, not just the presence of a firearm:

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to carry, exhibit, display, or draw any firearm, dagger, sword, knife or other cutting or stabbing instrument, club, or any other weapon apparently capable of producing bodily harm,

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.
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