Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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Does Initiative 594's background check requirement apply to handoffs of firearms to or between hunters?

It would depend on the specific circumstances of the handoff. To begin with, WDFW does not believe that short term handoffs of a firearm where the recipient is not allowed to fully control or use the firearm qualify as “transfers” within the meaning of I-594. So, for example, where one hunter temporarily hands a gun to a companion so that he or she can climb over an obstruction and then promptly receives the gun back, WDFW does not believe that would qualify as a transfer.

For handoffs that are transfers, Initiative 594 contains two exemptions that may apply to hunters. Both are set forth in section 3(4)(f) (RCW 9.41.113(4)(f)).

The first exempts the temporary transfer of a firearm to a person under 18 “for lawful hunting . . . while under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult who is not prohibited from possessing firearms.” “Direct supervision and control” is discussed above in response to FAQ # 3, above.

The second exemption for hunters applies to the temporary transfer of firearms “while hunting if the hunting is legal in all places where the person to whom the firearm is transferred possesses the firearm and the person to whom the firearm is transferred has completed all training and holds all licenses or permits required for such hunting . . . [and] the person to whom the firearm is transferred is not prohibited from possessing firearms under state or federal law.”

Transfers to hunters who are 18 and older are only exempt if they take place while engaged in hunting, and only if the firearm is possessed by the transferee solely in locations where hunting is permissible. Transfers to persons under 18, in contrast, needn’t occur “while hunting,” and the firearm may be possessed in areas where hunting is not legal, so long as the transfer is for the purpose of lawful hunting and the transferee is under the direct supervision and control of a responsible adult.


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Last Updated
8th of May, 2015

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