Initiative 1639: What Washington Gun Owners Need to Know

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Washington Gun Owners Update

On November 2018, Washington state voters passed one of the most comprehensive gun safety laws in the nation. Initiative 1639 or I-1639 (or the Public Safety and Semi-Automatic Assault Rifle Act), implements restrictions on the purchase and ownership of firearms and mandates safe storage requirements. Some of the restrictions are:

  • Mandatory background checks.
  • Increasing the legal purchasing age to 21.
  • Providing proof of storage for your firearms.

The intent of the law is to increase public safety and to curb the impact of gun violence which primarily targets women, children, and teenagers. This initiative is one step in addressing mass shootings and suicide deaths by firearms and accidental shootings.


washington gun owner in forest Here’s what you need to know about Washington Initiative 1639


Only Section 13, the age-limit portion of Initiative 1639 went into effect on January 1, 2019. The remainder becomes law on July 1, 2019. The law has several conditions you should be aware of.

  • Raises the legal purchasing age from 18 to 21 for semi-automatic rifles. In effect as of January 1, 2019.

The initiative updates state law so the requirements to purchase a semi-automatic rifle will match handguns. Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont and New York also prohibit persons under 21 from buying firearms.

  • Gun buyers will be required to pass a comprehensive, enhanced background check.
  • Gun buyers will need to provide proof of passing a firearms-training course.

The course must have been completed within the last five years. Additionally, the gun training course must be renewed every five years after buying a semi-automatic rifle.

  • Gun buyers must wait 10 business days, from the date the licensed dealer requested the background check, to take possession of the gun.
  • Buyers must not be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under federal or state law and the results of all required background checks must be known.
  • Gun dealers may charge buyers an additional fee up to $25 for semi-automatic rifle sales due to new regulations.



Amsec safe guardall safeInitiative 1639 Gun Storage Requirement


The second main component of Initiative 1639 imposes firearm storage requirements for gun owners.

  • Initiative 1639 requires that all gun owners secure their firearms or risk criminal penalties. Owners could be charged if someone who’s not allowed to possess a firearm, like a child or a felon, uses it in a crime, discharges it, or displays it publicly.

The criminal penalties include charges of community endangerment ranging from a first-degree class C felony to a misdemeanor.

Penalty Exceptions:

  • Firearms used and obtained via unlawful entry where the incident has been reported within 5 days of the time the person should’ve known it occurred.
  • Firearms that are secured in lock box, safe, or similar storage, and are somehow accessed by someone who shouldn’t have it.
  • The prohibited person obtains, or obtains and discharges, the firearm in a lawful act of self-defense.
  • In the case of a person who is a prohibited person based on the person’s age, access to the firearm is with the lawful permission of the prohibited person’s parent or guardian and supervised by an adult or is in accordance with RCW 9.41.042.

Need a gun safe? We carry Amsec and Gardall brand safes, up to 40% off retail price, that comply with Initiative 1639’s gun storage requirement.  Our safes will help ensure your firearms out of reach and secure from children and other prohibited persons. Visit Project Child Safe for more information about safe firearm storage and best practices.


Initiative 1639 Gun Transfer Exceptions

The background check requirement does not apply to:

  • A transfer between immediate family members.
  • Sale or transfer of an antique firearm.
  • A temporary transfer of possession of a firearm if the transfer is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to the person whom the firearm is transferred.
  • Any law enforcement or corrections agency and officer, federal officials, and members of the US armed forces.
  • The temporary transfer of a firearm between spouses or domestic partners or to a person who’s under 18 for lawful hunting.
  • A sale or transfer when the purchaser or transferee is a licensed collector and the firearm being sold or transferred is a curio or relic.

Initiative 1639 Firearms Safety Courses

Do you need to get your Initiative 1639 firearms safety course completed or renewed? Read this list of I1639 Firearms Safety Training Class providers:



Initiative 1639 is detailed and has many conditions that you should acquaint yourself with. To read the full text of I1639, click here. (It’s only 30 pages long!)


  • Secure gun storage is defined as “a locked box, gun safe, or other secure locked storage space that is designed to prevent unauthorized use or discharge of a firearm; and the act of keeping an unloaded firearm stored by such means.”
  • A semi-automatic rifle is defined as “any rifle which utilizes a portion of the energy of a firing cartridge to extract the fired cartridge case and chamber the next round, and which requires a separate pull of the trigger to fire each cartridge”.
  • Prohibited person is defined as “a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under state or federal law”.

Harry’s Locksmith is a reseller and installer for gun safes throughout the Greater Vancouver and Portland Metro. Our highly skilled and knowledgeable safe technicians bring over 40 years of experience to the industry. Recommended by Dex Knows for Safes & Vaults in Battle Ground, WA, we also provide combination changes and repairs to safes.

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This post does not constitute as legal advice nor legal opinion. For specific questions relating to Initiative 1639 and its conditions, please contact an attorney or your local law enforcement officer.


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