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Federal and state constitutions and statutes regulate firearm possession, where and how firearms can be carried, and design and safety of firearms and ammunition. Courts further interpret federal and state constitutions and statutes. Some regulation of firearms occurs at the local level, though limited in Washington by express pre-emption, with narrow exceptions.

The chart below summarizes Washington statutes, identifies several key gaps in Washington statutes, and compares the statutes to other states. Note that the U.S. Congress or Washington state legislature can legislate in many of these areas, but must not abridge the federal and state constitutional rights to bear arms.

Funding for public health surveillance and research on the impact of firearms on health and the efficacy of firearm laws can be included in local, state and federal budgets for public health and public safety agencies. Funding for surveillance and research on firearms and effective interventions has been virtually eliminated at the federal and state levels since the late 1990s, due to changes in appropriations*. Funding for public education campaigns on safety, and risk factors for potential suicide, homicide and injury from firearms are also virtually non-existent.


*Kellermann AL, & Rivara FR. (Dec 21, 2012). Silencing the science on gun research. JAMA. Available on JAMA website.