Short-Barreled Rifles in Washington State?


Prior to a 2014 change in state law, Short-Barreled Rifles (SBR) were illegal in Washington State. Recently, the ATF has started to reject applications to assemble SBRs by non-licensed gun owners.

The Washington State legislature amended Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.41.190 Unlawful Firearms—Exceptions in 2014 to defer to federal law regarding short-barreled rifles (SBR). The revised law stated in subsection (2):

"(2) It is not unlawful for a person to possess, transport, acquire, or transfer a short-barreled rifle that is legally registered and possessed, transported, acquired, or transferred in accordance with federal law."

Unfortunately, subsection (1) states:

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or to assemble or repair any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle.(Emphasis Added)

So, the problem is that section (2) fails to explicitly state that manufacturing an SBR is legal.

It appears that the ATF has changed how it defines and regulates SBRs in Washington State.

This puts gun owners in a bind. They have no clear direction from the ATF and their elected representatives have let them down with amateurish legislation that contradicts itself.

Maybe the next version should state:

All short-barreled rifles are hereby exempt from all requirements of RCW 9.41.190.

That was easy.

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