One of the consequences of getting convicted of any felony in Washington State is losing your right to own or possess a firearm. This is automatic under the law, though you can petition to restore your rights three years after a disqualifying misdemeanor conviction and five years after being convicted for a felony, as long as your offense was not a sex crime or a Class A felony.
For people who own guns for hunting, self-defense, or as a collection, losing their Second Amendment rights can be difficult and inconvenient. If guns were not a part of your life when you were convicted, however, this part of your sentence may not seem important. If you don’t plan to buy or own one, what does it matter? Even so, gun rights restoration is something you might want to consider — if nothing else, to make sure you won’t get charged with a felony for something beyond your control.
Charged for being in ‘control’ of a gun you didn’t even know about
Unlawful possession of a firearm in Washington is owning, possessing or having in your “control” a gun after being convicted of any felony or disqualifying misdemeanor. And the meaning of possessing or controlling a firearm is broader than you might realize. It can include riding in someone else’s car or being in another person’s house where a gun is present. Whether you knew about the gun or not, if the police arrive at the scene or pull over the vehicle, you could be facing an unlawful possession charge. In theory, you were “in control” of the firearm just by being near it.
Consider the benefits
Getting arrested and charged with a serious crime for being in the presence of a gun unwittingly is the last thing anyone wants. Especially someone who has put the mistakes of the past behind them and is trying to move on with their life. Whether you wish to own and use firearms again or not, going through the process of getting your rights restored can give you peace of mind that this won’t happen.