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Can You Shoot on Your Property in Washington?

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Washington is one of the youngest states in United States union, having joined in 1889. Since then, it has set forth to come up with state laws that protect its residents and non-residents. This includes firearm laws as well.

It is a shall issue state, allowing competent candidates, 21 years and above, to get a permit as soon as they pass a background check. Non-residents are also allowed to apply for concealed weapons permits.

It recognizes an individual’s rights to bear arms as long as it does not infringe on another person’s right to life. To enjoy your gun rights fully in Washington, you may want to find out whether you can shoot on your property.

Can You Shoot on Your Property in Washington?

Yes, you can shoot on your property in Washington because there are no state laws that restrict this. However, depending on where you are, local authorities may have their own rules.

This is because in Washington, counties, cities, towns and other municipalities are allowed to effect ordinances affecting ownership, buying and selling of firearms.

A guy doing a practice shooting with a pistol

The only way to find out what they are is by contacting the local sheriff’s office for more information. Once you are in the clear, you can then set up a shooting area.

The top things to pay attention to are:

  • Target shooting
  • Lethal force
  • Safe storage laws

Target Shooting on Your Property

For you to enjoy target shooting, you need to ensure that your property meets the stipulations set out. According to the Washington State Legislature, these include:

  • Developed recreational facilities
  • Areas with an earthen, non-obstructed backstop that can safely stop projectiles and debris
  • 500 feet away from residences, businesses or structures

There are also rules when it comes to picking a target. You can only use a target commercially or domestically made for the purpose of target shooting. You cannot use the following as targets:

  • Vegetation
  • Natural features that aren’t earthen banks or berms used as backstops
  • Vehicles
  • Structures
  • Gates
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Glass
  • Signs
  • Private structures
  • Wildlife
  • Pets
  • Garbage
  • Explosive items

You are also not allowed to shoot half an hour after sunset or before sunrise

Lethal Force

Washington does not have a castle doctrine law in place but it does have stipulations concerning the use of lethal force. You can use lethal force when you have certain belief that you or those around you are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. This is according to an article by William K. Kirk Attorney at Law.

The danger of great bodily harm must be that which if not stopped could lead to extensive physical damage or death. Thus, lethal force is only applicable if your life is in danger and not in protection of property, whether it is your home, car or place of business. You are required to stand down in these situations unless your life is at risk.

A woman waring a cap and jacket sniping through rifle scope

Safe Storage Laws

As you store your weapons at home, you need to keep in mind the safe storage laws that were enacted in Washington to prevent community endangerment. Leaving your weapon haphazardly can constitute a felony. According to the NRA-ILA, these felonies include:

  • A felony of the 1st degree – Storing or leaving a weapon where you know a prohibited person can gain access to it and they do, causing personal bodily harm or death
  • A felony of the 2nd degree (gross misdemeanor) – Storing or leaving a weapon where you know a prohibited person can gain access to it and they do, causing it to discharge or carrying to a public place to intimidate or put others’ lives at risk or use it to commit a crime.

Punishment can include prison time. People not allowed to access weapons may include felons, children and those who are mentally ill.

Conclusion

Shooting on your property in Washington is dependent on whether there are any local laws that prohibit the same. This may be in form of distance rules, noise ordinances or outright restrictions. The best way to be safe is to contact the sheriff and find out whether there are any laws you should know about.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.