I recently had a grandfather pass away and he left behind a beautiful Colt Trooper MK V .357. He lived in Santa Barbara, California and me and my dad are flying down there tomorrow to get some personal items and the firearm and then driving it all back to WA. I want to know what the legal ramifications are in making this transfer? I wish to simply drive the firearm up to WA and then register it in my name in WA, but I have heard that you are technically supposed to go through an FFL. Meaning, we would have to go down there, bring the firearm to UPS or FedEx, ship it to the FFL dealer in WA, then once I get back I would have to go to the dealer, pay a sales tax on the firearm (which is insane seeing how i didn't buy it and it was purchased probably 30 years ago), and then pay the transfer fee to have it filed in my name.

Does that sound right? Is there an easy way to do this? If I just brought the firearm up in the car could I just bring it into a FFL (or ship it from my home address so its cheaper?) and then have them register it?

  • Your grandfather left behind or specifically left to you by bequest or intestate succession?
    – Dave D
    Nov 18, 2016 at 4:37
  • There is no will or anything legally binding me to it, but by succession it would go to my mother who doesn't want the firearm and therefore would "gift" it to me Nov 18, 2016 at 5:07
  • I don't have enough information to create an answer, but California has very definite requirements on transferring firearms including notifying them when a firearm transfers to someone else due to death. Much of the complication comes about because California just changed many of their gun-related statutes.
    – Dave D
    Nov 18, 2016 at 20:05

3 Answers 3


At the federal level, 18 USC 926A governs interstate transportation of firearms:

any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console

The federal law on transportation preempts state laws so you don't have to even wonder that the laws of Idaho/Nevada/Arizona or Oregon are. Here's a summary of Washington firearms laws, the main point of which is that for open carry, no registration is required. Transportation in state follows the unloaded / locked-up federal model. The open-carry law is here, which basically says that you can't threaten people with any weapon, but merely being in possession is not a threat. If you're under 21, there are a few other restrictions (you have to keep it on your property). If you do want a concealed carry permit, you apply at the police office -- this is a "shall issue" state.

  • 1
    Hey thanks for the advice, after some research I found the exact law that states that I am excempt from the transfer laws because it is a transfer between immediate family members: (app.leg.wa.gov/Rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.113) See 4.a and 4.g. Both seem to appy to my scenario Nov 18, 2016 at 2:04

Washington State laws do not require an FFL dealer to make the transfer when the transfer is done between immediate family members. Please see 4.a and 4.g in RCW 9.41.113


Using an FFL to move guns interstate is certainly the "safe" way, but it's not generally necessary. In some states it's necessary for guns – especially handguns – to be transferred through an FFL when changing ownership (but usually with exceptions for inheritance).

(Note also: Few states require "registration" of firearms. The federal government only requires registration of "special" (NFA) guns.)

Once you own a gun you can mail it to yourself in another state where you can legally possess it (ref ATF FAQ #6). And, if you trust the FOPA, you can in compliance with that law transport it yourself between any two jurisdictions where you can legally possess it.


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