As retirement draws ever closer, some strange ideas become more and more appealing.
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Where can you legally carry a pistol/handgun, loaded or unloaded, concealed or not while in Washington State? Even though the title of the following RCW (Revised Code of Washington) is “Carrying Firearms”, it only deals with handguns not all firearms and primarily with respect to conceal carry on the person and handguns in vehicles.
(1)(a) Except in the person’s place of abode or fixed place of business, a person shall not carry a pistol concealed on his or her person without a license to carry a concealed pistol (CPL).
Of the 3 rules in this section this one probably needs no explanation. Stated simply, you cannot conceal a weapon on your person unless you have a conceal carry license or you are at your ‘abode or fixed place of business.’ Only thing I have not seen spelled out is if a motorhome or camping trailer would be considered an ‘abode’ either while parked or moving but since I have my conceal pistol license, I don’t have to worry about that question.
The other thing of note is that it does not specify that it is dealing with the concealment of loaded pistols and therefore having an unloaded pistol concealed on your person would be just as illegal. The exception to this is noted below, without a license you can ‘conceal’ a handgun in an ‘opaque container’ or ‘secure wrapper’.
(2)(a) A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and:
(i) The pistol is on the licensee’s person,
(ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or
(iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
I have seen quite a bit of discussion on this rule. Most of the confusion is because people don’t read it correctly, thinking there is an ‘and’ between (i) and (ii) instead of the implied ‘or’. First off, the only hassle-free way you may possess a loaded firearm in a vehicle is if you have a concealed pistol license. An exception to this, noted below, is if you are engaging in or on your way to an ‘outdoor activity’. Rule 3 below will deal with persons without a conceal carry permit. So, with a conceal permit, part (i) says that if the loaded handgun is on your person then you are fine. Part (ii) says the loaded handgun can be anywhere in the car as long as the licensee is also be in the car. This means the pistol does not have to be out of sight or concealed. It can be on the seat, in the glove box, or anywhere you choose to place it as long as you are in the vehicle. Part (iii) is the only other possible situation, if the licensee leaves the vehicle, the loaded pistol can be left in the vehicle as long as the vehicle is locked and the pistol is not visible from outside the vehicle.
(3)(a) A person at least eighteen years of age who is in possession of an unloaded pistol shall not leave the unloaded pistol in a vehicle unless the unloaded pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle.
Finally, if you don’t have a concealed pistol license, then to have a handgun in the vehicle it must be unloaded and you must be at least 18 years old. If you are going to leave the handgun in an unattended vehicle, the vehicle must be locked and the unloaded handgun must be concealed from view.
So, Washington may be an ‘open carry’ state, but when you get in your car, the handgun can no longer be loaded if you do not have a concealed pistol license. I find it interesting that the definition of ‘loaded’ (RCW 9.41.010 does not specify any significant physical separation of the ammo from the handgun. If the magazine has been removed and the handgun does not have a round in the chamber the handgun is considered unloaded even if both the handgun and the ammo are in the same carrying case or glove box.
The next RCW lists exceptions to the above laws, two of which apply to us regular citizens.
The provisions of RCW 9.41.050 shall not apply to:
(8) Any person engaging in a lawful outdoor recreational activity such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, or horseback riding, only if, considering all of the attendant circumstances, including but not limited to whether the person has a valid hunting or fishing license, it is reasonable to conclude that the person is participating in lawful outdoor activities or is traveling to or from a legitimate outdoor recreation area;
This odd exception seems to be saying that a loaded pistol may be carried on the person or in the vehicle by anyone either engaging in any outdoor activity or on their way to or from such activity. In all the reading I have done I have not figured out how such a broad exception got written into the law.
(9) Any person while carrying a pistol unloaded and in a closed opaque case or secure wrapper;
It must be remembered that this is an exception and not a ‘rule’. A pistol is not considered ‘concealed’ if it is in an opaque case such as a plastic box like you get when you buy your gun or in a secure wrapper which I have seen described as a backpack. In other words, you are allowed to carry a ‘concealed’ unloaded pistol using either of these two methods, since without this rule you could not carry a pistol out of a store without breaking law unless you carried it in plain sight. This rule has nothing to do with how the handgun must be stored in the car, otherwise it would have been put it RCW 9.41.050 and not here in the exceptions to that section.
In a future post we will look at specific places that you can and cannot carry a handgun in Washington State.
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Storm clouds loomed ominously overhead as we headed into Oregon but decided to unleash their torrent as we pulled into the park. The office was closed when we arrived but we had a reserved site so it was just a matter of finding it and pulling in. Problem was, I kept driving down the front side of the camping spots and the sites are all numbered from the back side (since any smart person would be driving on the back side so they could pull in to their spot). I got out twice in the rain looking for the correct campsite number (wondering why they were not numbered where a person could see them) before someone in a golf car pointed out my error and our camp site.
Moments later we were in our spot. I unlocked the trailer and we all piled into the trailer and waited for the rain to subside. Once it did, we leveled up the trailer, I got it unhooked and the camping had begun. The boys were already excited for morning to come so we could go geocaching and hike up to Hat Rock.
After spending the weekend at Ocean Park for our family reunion, we packed up the ole Arctic Fox trailer and headed across the Columbia to Fort Stevens State Park. We have wanted to camp here for a long time but never made reservations early enough. This year I found a space available from Monday through Thursday that would fill the gap between our planned weekend camping spots. The 3,700 acre park has nine miles of bicycle trails, six miles of hiking trails, as well as miles of beach, so there is always plenty to do and explore. Kevin & Kyle would have no problem running the beach each day to get their 5 to 6 miles in for Cross Country pre-season practice.
We visited the historic military area which has a museum as well as the concrete bunkers built as military fortifications to guard the mouth of the Columbia River. The original earthwork fortifications were build during the Civil War were replaced by concrete structures and served as an active military base until the end of World War II. The kids enjoy exploring the dark interiors of the huge bunkers and posing next to the large guns.
We had great weather while at Fort Stevens! Not only did it not rain (much) on us, one evening the sky was not overcast at all and we had a great sunset. I drove back to the beach to get some photos of the 1904 shipwreck of the Peter Iredale with the setting sun. I got what I think are some fantastic shots.
We also signed up for the ranger-led kayak session on Coffenbury Lake. The rangers explained the history of Fort Stevens as we paddled around the lake early in the morning. The kids enjoyed themselves thoroughly. I really think we need to buy a couple of kayaks for the family to use on the Columbia River around home as well as when we are out camping.
Before we knew it our time at Fort Stevens was over and it was time to hook up the trailer and head toward warmer weather to finish out our vacation near Mount Rainier.
Leaving is always the hardest thing to do. Especially when you are leaving for a 10 day vacation in a 26′ travel trailer. We have found that rather than leaving in the morning, it is always best to leave the night before. It always takes an extra 2 hours to pack, so if you plan to leave town at 8am you never get out until 10, but if you plan to leave around 7pm you can get out of the house at 9pm, get a couple hundred miles down the road, and actually be on vacation the next morning.
Multnomah Falls is a great place to stop for the night. After locking everything up we all crawled into bed around midnight. The train tracks are only about 40 yards away but if the train went by while we were there this year, I sure did not hear it. I was wakened at 6:30am by our little schnauzer, Fritz, who needed to do his business. I am so glad I forced myself out of bed and did not make the boys take him out. The air was clear, it was a gorgeous walk up to the falls, and I had the place to myself.
After taking pictures of the falls, Fritz and I walked east along old Highway 30 and the train tracks. The sun was peaking around the mountain but I was not able to get a good photo of the sunrise. As we were walking I saw the train coming so I set up to take a picture of the train as it whizzed by. Well, the conductor had the last laugh. I was holding the camera to get just the right shot. The train had just reached me and the conductor blasted the train whistle. I must have jumped a foot and am sure the conductor was laughing all the way down the track.
When I got back to the trailer around 8am everyone was awake and we decided to hit the road and get breakfast and coffee in Wood Village, outside Portland where we had planned to make a pit stop anyway to visit Camping World.