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Thread: Seattle PI blog answers open carry question

  1. #1
    Regular Member Bobarino's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Puyallup, Washington, USA

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    Is Washington an open-carry state regarding guns? Q: I have a concealed-weapons license and can carry a handgun on my person concealed. Can I carry the same firearm "open" and not have to worry about someone calling the police on me?
    I've heard that Washington has a "open-carry" law that doesn't require any license as long as the firearm is within full view on a person. Is this true?
    If someone sees me carrying a firearm am I in possible trouble with the law?
    And pertaining to concealment: If I conceal a firearm on my person but you can see the outline of the gun is this cause for concern or is it OK as long as it's "concealed?"
    A: Here's information from the King County Sheriff's Office:
    Washington is an "open- carry" state. That means a person may openly carry a firearm (pistol, rifle or shotgun) in public without a concealed-pistol license.
    Of course, as with any other "right" there are exceptions. A firearm may not be taken into a courtroom, jail, school, bar or parts of airports, for example.
    In addition, there may be limits as to age, felon, DV conviction, protection order, or specific court order. …
    RCW 9.41.270 provides that it is unlawful for a person to carry, exhibit, display or draw any firearm in a manner, under circumstances, and at a time and place that either manifests intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons. A violation is a gross misdemeanor.
    This statute is very fact-specific, but in general, merely walking around in public with the gun properly secured in an exposed holster does not constitute a violation.
    A court will consider "time, place, manner" factors, such as the time of day, whether the area is residential, urban or countryside, the manner in which the weapon is being carried, the size and type of weapon, whether the clip is visibly attached, high-crime area, whether the person waved it around, tossed it when stopped, etc.
    In State v. Spencer, the court … upheld a conviction for RCW 9.41.270 when the person carried an AK-47 with the clip attached on the person's shoulder at 10 p.m., while walking briskly through a residential area with his head down and avoiding eye contact.
    In State v. Mitchell, officers on night patrol saw the defendant and a companion walking down the street in a residential area in Seattle. The defendant was carrying a semi-automatic handgun and as officers passed, they observed him tuck it into his waistband. When the officers stopped them, the defendant tossed the gun into the bushes. The court held that openly carrying such a weapon at night in an urban residential area was sufficient to warrant reasonable suspicion that the crime of unlawful display of a firearm was being committed.
    In State v. Craig, the court held that an eyewitness testimony that a person driving by in a car pointing a gun at the witness was sufficient to support a finding that officers had probable cause to believe that the person committed the crime of unlawfully displaying (a) weapon.
    What might be acceptable behavior on a country road in hunting season would be cause for alarm in an urban residential neighborhood in a high crime area at night. Nonetheless, again typically carrying a properly holstered gun openly will not pass sufficient muster for a violation.
    RCW 9.41.230 prohibits a person from aiming any firearm, whether loaded or not, at or towards a human being. It also prohibits willfully discharging a firearm in a public place or in any place where a person might be endangered. Public places do not include locations where it discharging firearms is authorized.
    RCW 9.41.250 prohibits "furtively carrying with intent to conceal any dagger, dirk, pistol or other dangerous weapon."
    While "open carry" is legal in public, private property is a different matter.
    Private property owners may limit individuals' right to carry on their property. This includes quasi-public property such as shopping malls, restaurants and retail stores.
    The notice may take two forms. First, if a property is clearly marked with very visible signs at all entrances that say "No Firearms Allowed," then it is illegal to bring a firearm onto the property, with or without a CPL. The crime would be trespass.
    If there is no signage and the person with the weapon is asked to leave by the owner or agent and the person refuses, (deputies) can also use the trespass statute. …
    State law controls this area of the law and preempts local jurisdictions from passing more restrictive laws on carrying firearms.
    not a bad response. seems to try to discourage the practice a little but hey, what'ya want from a Seattle newspaper.


  2. #2
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    Aug 2009
    Everett, Washington, USA

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    Basically I hope the takeaway from this article for most people who are uneducated would be: If you see someone walking around with a gun on his or her side, there is no cause for alarm.

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