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80% Lower Laws in Washington

80 Percent Arms   |   Oct 20th 2020

Updated February 9th, 2022. Disclaimer: To get started, we want to share a small disclaimer. We are dedicated and proud supporters of everything 2nd amendment, but we are not lawyers. So, before you take what you read here and run with it, you will want to double-check all of your local or state gun laws. Make sure you are up to date on any special regulations that may apply to you and your situation. Gun laws are always changing and always do your part to stay up to date with the newest and current laws.

An  80 percent lower, blank receiver, or, as some critics refer to them as, “ghost guns,” are not technically firearms, according to the federal government and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Unfortunately, some states, including Washington, do not see it that way.

In the eyes of local and state governments throughout the state of Washington, an 80 percent rifle or lower must be heavily regulated or outright banned. At least, that is seemingly their goal.

Here is what you need to know about 80% firearms in Washington.

What is an 80 Percent Receiver?

We will use the definition set forth by the ATF, as their word is technically law. According to their definition, an 80 percent receiver, or  blank receiver, is:

“80% receiver,” “80% finished,” “80% complete,” and “unfinished receiver” are all terms referring to an item that some may believe has not yet reached a stage of manufacture that meets the definition of firearm frame or receiver found in the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). These are not statutory terms or terms ATF employs or endorses."

In layman’s terms, an 80% receiver is an unfinished receiver. It is only 80 percent complete, hence the name. To construct a working AR-15, you need to cut and mill the last 20%. Then, once your job is done, the blank receiver becomes a stripped lower receiver; a firearm, according to the ATF.

It is all too confusing, and states like Washington enacting their regulations muddies the waters even further.

Did Washington Ban 80% Lowers?


Well, neither will disarming law abiding citizens so they can't defend themselves...

On April 23, 2019, the state legislators passed a bill prohibiting the manufacture and sale of what they call “untraceable firearms,” or 80 percent lowers turned firearms. Their goal is also to stop 3D-printed firearm schematics and firearms in Washington.

Washington’s HB 1739

The bill, known as  HB 1739, was introduced on March 4, 2019. The Senate passed it on April 16. On May 7, the Washington Governor signed a law, which took effect on July 1, 2019.

This bill affects 80 percent lowers, polymer firearms, 3D-printed firearms, schematics, and the AR-15 as a whole. Here is what is the bill says:

“Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to:

  • (a) Manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, bump-fire stock, undetectable firearm, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle;
  • (b) Manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, bump-fire stock, undetectable firearm, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle;”
  • (c) Assemble or repair any machine gun, bump-fire stock, undetectable firearm, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or
  • (d) Manufacture an untraceable firearm with the intent to sell the untraceable firearm."

Are 80 Lowers Legal In Washington?

As of this guide’s initial publish date, 80% lower receivers and frames are not considered as firearms by the ATF and are completely legal to ship directly to buyers residing in the state of Washington. What was specifically banned on HB1739 was mainly 3D-printed or polymer based 80% AR-15 lower receivers. As far as the lower receivers and frames sold by 80 Percent Arms go, they are legal to purchase and own per Washington state and federal regulations.

Do I Need to Serialize My 80 Lower in Washington?

If you build out your own firearms starting with 80 lowers in Washington you do not need to serialize the lower receiver or frame as there are currently no laws requiring citizens to do so. Should you wish to serialize your lower receiver you certainly can if necessary through our 80 lower engraving services.

Key Gun Laws in Washington

Other than laws regarding 80 lowers, these are the key gun laws you should be aware of if you reside or are traveling through Washington.

Firearm Possession and Purchase Requirements

To purchase a handgun and a semiautomatic “assault rifle” in the state of Washington buyers must be at least 21 years old. No extra permits or licenses are necessary for the purchase of handguns or long guns. Washington’s minimum age for possession of any gun is 21 years old. In the event a minor is in possession of a handgun the normal exemptions apply when minors have consent from their parents or guardian or if they are in direct supervision or presence of their parents, guardian or when attending a hunter’s or firearms safety course, using the gun for target practice or recreational shooting at an established range, involved in an organized competition, hunting or trapping with a valid license, traveling to and from these events, or at their own residence with permission and supervision of a parents or a legal guardian.

All firearm purchases and transfers require a background check including private party transfers (Dealer Record of Sale also known as 4473 form or “DROS”). While federal law requires federal firearm license holders (“FFL’s”:) to initiate background checks on buyers prior to the sale of a firearm, federal law also allows states to serve as their own “point of contact” and conduct their own background checks via state, federal records or databases, as well as the option to use the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. Washington is a full point of contact for the NICS and as a result, dealers must conduct their background checks by going through the Washington State Patrol and Department of Social and Health Services. Washington does have a mandatory waiting period of 10 days before buyers can take their firearm purchases home.

Open and Concealed Carrying

Washington is a “shall-issue” state for concealed carrying. Open carrying is also legal in Washington without a permit. Open carry is legal without permit for anyone who is at least 21 years old and legally allowed to possess a firearm. CCW’s are offered in the form of a “CPL” or Concealed Pistol License. Some areas are off-limits such as public schools or federal buildings, be sure to do your research before going into areas you don’t regularly frequent. CPL applicants must be at least 21 years old and there is no training class requirement. For more details on their concealed carrying policies see Washington’s reciprocity map here.

NFA Restrictions

Machine guns and short barreled shotguns are illegal but suppressors and destructive devices are legal for residents in Washington to purchase and possess (provided it was done with the proper paperwork through the ATF). Please note that Washington state does have an “ assault weapons” ban.

Magazine Capacity Restrictions

For now, there are no magazine capacity restrictions in the state of Washington. Enjoy those sticks, drums and belt-fed box magazines while you can!! Washington state senate just passed SB 5078 which will ban all standard capacity magazines. If you'd like to preemptively stock up, we carry plenty of standard capacity magazines like the Lancer Advanced Warfighter L5 mag which is a 30 rounder too. Our favorite color is the translucent smoke one.

Mandatory Storage Requirements

There are no mandatory storage requirements in Washington but you should still exercise caution because you can be tried for negligently leaving your guns accessible to children. If you need some good ideas or best practices for storing your guns and gear here are 5 ways to store your firearms at home.

Self-Defense

Washington state is not a castle doctrine state and doesn’t have an explicit stand your ground law in place but the Supreme Court in Washington has consistently ruled that there is no duty retreat if a person is in a place that they are legally allowed to be when being assaulted and forced to respond with force for their own self-defense and defense of others. However, Washingtonians must be careful to note that they cannot use more force than necessary depending on the given situation — A response of “equal force” is necessary.

Ammunition Purchase

Washington state requires a license for dealers to sell ammo but licenses are not required for individuals who aren’t dealers. Sales records do not have to be maintained. Purchase, possession and sale of ammo does not require a license. Essentially, all ammunition is unrestricted in Washington. Ammo does, however, need to at all times be safely stored separately from flammable materials by a fire-resistant wall of a one hour rating or by a distance of 25 feet. Online ammo purchases require buyers to be at least 21 years old but can be straight to your front door.

Start Your Next 80 Lower Build with 80% Arms!

Washington state residents are completely free to build their own firearms from 80 lowers and frames without any required serialization or FFL transactions. At this time there have not been any bans on 80 percents so take advantage of your constitutional Second Amendment right and freedom to keep, bear and build your own arms while you can! Grab an 80 lower jig and some buddies to enjoy that freedom together and let us know if you need any advice with your build at any point in the process. Friends, live free.