In 2018, WA Initiative I-1639 was approved in Washington state. This initiative makes it a requirement for any resident wanting to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to successfully complete an approved firearm safety training course. Below is a high level review of Washington State gun safety course requirements.
While the above initiative does not detail a specific curriculum that must be followed, it does detail specific objectives or topics that must be covered. Some courses are taught in person by a government agency or firearms training school.
Other courses offer online videos that must be watched before a certificate will be issued. Read below for a general overview of what to expect from a firearm safety training course.
Basic Firearm Safety and Safe Gun Handling
The first part of your course will be an overview of basic firearm safety and safe gun handling.
For basic firearm safety, you will review things like the 5 basic principles of gun safety:
Treat every gun as if it were loaded
Always point your gun in a safe direction
Never point your gun at anything you don’t plan on shooting
Keep your finger off of the trigger until it is time to shoot
Be aware of your target and your surroundings
The above principles will be reviewed in detail, as they are essential to basic firearm safety. These basic principles will teach you how to safely handle your weapon at all times.
Firearms and Children
Studies show that, in the United States, 1 in 3 homes with guns in them also have children in the home. Unfortunately, with this being said, firearm injuries are among the top four causes of death for children ages 10-24.
If you have both children and firearms in your home, this part of the course will teach you how to be as safe as possible so that no death or injury occurs. You will learn to always keep your weapon locked and unloaded. Ammunition for your firearm should always be kept in a separate place. Also, children should never know where the keys to your weapon are located under any circumstances. These are just a few of the safety rules that will be discussed in the course.
Research shows that the presence of guns in the home increases suicide risk. While a weapon alone is not an indicator for suicide, mental health is. In this part of the course, you will learn that conditions like anxiety and depression are treatable. The mental health of those in a home with a gun should be addressed and actively managed.
Secure Storage of Firearms
During this part of the course, you will review how to safely secure and store your firearms. There are many options of storage that will be discussed.
External locking devices, like trigger locks and cable locks, are meant to stop small children from tampering with or accidentally discharging a weapon, but most adults and older children can easily dismantle them. A gun case better protects your weapon, however a thief or burglar could steal your entire gun case and break it open.
A more secure way of storage firearms is a large gun case or gun safe. These are heavy and can’t be taken out of your house easily. They also are more difficult to break into. If your gun safe is concealed, this makes for even safer storage.
State and Federal Firearm Laws
In order to own and operate a firearm, it is important to know and understand all state and federal firearm laws. These laws will be reviewed in detail so that you are clearly aware of all laws.
This part of the course will review persons who are prohibited from operating or accessing your weapon. A good rule of thumb is that only the person who owns the weapon should handle it.
Applying for Oregon and WA CCW Permits
Lastly, in a Washington state gun safety course, you will most likely get information on how to apply for CCW permits in Oregon and WA. A CCW permit is a carrying a concealed weapon permit. Issuing these permits is not done on a federal level, but on a state level. Many states require their own CCW permit, so if you plan to travel with your firearm, you need to look into applying for a CCW in the state in which you are visiting.
What do you get?
In the end, once this course is complete, you get a well-rounded knowledge of firearm safety.
While there is no live-firing and no testing at the end of this course, you will be issued a full-size proof of training certificate. In most cases, you will also receive a wallet-size proof of training certificate that can be carried with you in the case it needs to be presented.
As stated in I-1639, this course must be repeated every five years to comply. This seems like a lot, however, places like Kaery Concealed offer free repeats of courses once you purchase and complete it the first time. You can also take refresher courses whenever you’d like.
This I-1639 initiative will be in place for at least five years. While some gun owners see it as time consuming and unnecessary, it is in place for a reason. After five years, this initiative will be reassessed, but most likely voted in again by Washington state residents.
Upon completion of this course and the issuance of your certificate, one more step will happen that is delineated in I-1639. You will have to obtain a letter, in writing, by the chief of police in your area stating that you are eligible to own a firearm.
Your police office will run a criminal background check before issuing a letter. If there is a warrant out for your arrest, you will not be approved. Also, if there is anything else on your record that gives the police chief reasonable doubt, you may also not be approved for your firearm.
Alex Joseph is an avid bow hunter and father of two boys. Originally from Tacoma, Washington. Alex now resides in California.