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  • Writer's picturePhil Nelsen

Washington I-1639 Is Now In Effect, What It Means For Washingtonians

This week Washington I-1639 took effect, and with it a number of new legal requirements that gun owners in the Evergreen State need to be aware of.


DISCLAIMER: We obviously did not write this law nor do we agree with it. Please save the angry messages/comments for those responsible for this mess. We are not those people.


Effective July 1, 2019 anyone wishing to purchase a semi-automatic rifle in Washington must comply with a number of new requirements, including completion of a mandatory training course. Don't worry, we have all the answers you need in this article.


Public Initiative 1639 was a Washington state ballot initiative, which means it was voted into place by the general public, that was passed into law on November 6, 2018. The initiative did a number of things, including:

  • Legally defined "semiautomatic assault rifles" as any semi-automatic rifle (more on this below)

  • Raised the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic rifle to 21

  • Requires completion of a new firearm safety course prior to purchasing a semi-automatic rifle (more on this below)

  • Imposes a 10 day waiting period before taking possession of included rifles

  • Expanded background checks to include HIPAA protected medical records

Sadly, it is hard to place all of the blame only on politicians for this terrible law. 59% of Washington residents voted in favor of it during a public ballot initiative on November 6, 2018.

What Qualifies As A Semi-Automatic Assault Rifle?

The law defines a semiautomatic assault rifle 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. “Semiautomatic assault rifle” does not include antique firearms, any firearm that has been made permanently inoperable, or any firearm that is manually operated by bolt, pump, lever, or slide action.

A “Rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridge to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

The most common example of what would fall under this definition is an AR-15. However, it isn’t only AR style rifles that meet the definition. Essentially any long gun that can be fired in repeated succession with only the pull of a trigger (i.e. without the manual operation of a bolt, pump, slide or lever) will now be regulated under these heightened purchase standards.

What Training Is Now Required?

I-1639 states that an individual wishing to purchase a semiautomatic rifle must complete a firearm safety training course every 5 years. The safety training must be conducted by a recognized organization that “customarily offers firearms training.” The training must consist of instruction on six mandatory subjects:

  1. Basic firearms safety rules;

  2. Firearms and children, including secure gun storage and talking to children about gun safety;

  3. Firearms and suicide prevention;

  4. Secure gun storage to prevent unauthorized access and use;

  5. Safe handling of firearms; and

  6. State and federal firearms laws, including prohibited firearms transfers.

The good news (if you can call anything about this law good) is that Legal Heat has spent the last 10 months developing a completely online training class that satisfies the I-1639 law. It can be completed in under an hour and from any device (laptop, phone, tablet). You can access the online class by clicking here and use coupon code "CONCEALEDNATION" to save $5 at checkout.

Immediately upon completion of the Legal Heat online training you will receive a certificate of completion that will function as your proof of training for the next 5 years. This proof of training needs to be presented to the dealer at the time of your purchase and you can always retrieve another copy of your certificate for free by logging into Legal Heat's website.

Sadly, there are no exceptions from the training for anyone with prior training/experience. Everyone is required to take it. Legal Heat did, however, make it worth your while by updating you on many key topics including recent changes to state and federal law, police encounter laws, etc. The course is designed and instructed by nationally recognized firearm law attorney Phillip Nelsen.

Legal Heat has prepared a video overview of I-1639 and their training class which you can watch below:

Where Can I Find Additional Information?

The Washington Attorney General has published a FAQ document that has much more information on the law. You can access that document by clicking here. Both the NRA and The Second Amendment Foundation have filed lawsuits challenging the law. Sadly it may be many months or even years before they work their way through the system. There are a number of valid legal criticisms to the law, including the invasive disclosure of HIPAA protected medical records, but gun owners hoping to see this law overturned need to know they are facing a tough uphill battle in the 9th Circuit. We will keep you updated on any changes or updates.

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