Washington State Firearms Law and Civil Defense

We encourage reading all the Massad Ayoob articles. Go to the links herein and click on one of articles; there is a list of links to Ayoob’s articles about dealing with threatening situations at:


Ayoob is an eminent firearms author and lecturer trained in law and police work. Mr. Ayoob trains law enforcement, military and civilians in combat shooting skills and teaches at the Firearms Academy of Seattle (in Onalaska, Washington) every year.

If you think that small arms are not likely to be deployed as deadly instrumentalities of terror by jihadist or other terrorist teams read the following:

Armed Intrusions and Building Occupations

“Attackers using small arms are a growing threat. Even “routine” workplace shootings can prove disastrous for business continuity. A single disgruntled employee with no training, no accomplices, no support, and with little reconnaissance and preparation has been able in the past to penetrate a variety of workplaces, systematically murder workers, and wreak havoc on businesses.”

One such case occurred in a mall in Omaha and another earlier in the year in Salt Lake City, killing eight and five, respectively. Most of these tragedies occur in so- called “gun-free zones”. Imagine what multiple coordinated, trained and well-equipped terrorist teams might be able to accomplish with detailed support and advance planning if they hit at the same time in several strategic locations.

The prospect of a business office or campus takeover, a media spectacle hostage crisis, or instances of mass murder cannot be ruled out in the coming years.” (From Anticipating Terror Threats by Robert C. Chandler, Ph.D.)


The above-referenced Disaster Resource website is designed for business managers and disaster planning professionals. It contains many excellent articles for business management. The Chandler article makes an excellent point relating to how carefully the potential for attacks against business operations has been quantified by insurance actuaries since 911.

Those that are in denial about the potential for further attacks like the WTC attacks are already paying for potential damage in the cost of insurance premiums, directly or passed on via the price of goods and services. The economics of the insurance industry are far less susceptible to political manipulation than Fox News audiences, CNN viewers or, for that matter, MoveOn.Org enthusiasts.

Another good link is to the Firearms Academy of Seattle, Inc. which now offers a UTAH concealed firearm permit that is good in 27 states- and it only costs $85.00 to take the class which does not include the permit fee of $65.25.

FAS offers classes at almost every level of shooting from basic safety to advanced tactical and combat shooting with most types of firearms. Massad Ayoob is a regular lecturer at the Academy which includes legal professionals among its instructors. The law of armed defense is one of the primary components of the FAS course work.

I recently attended the Lethal Force Institute for four days and will discuss the details of the training at this site in the near future. Two days of classroom lecture pertaining to the legal elements of armed defense were followed by two days of hands-on firearms training with Ayoob and several other instructors providing excellent guidance.

We started in the classroom with detailed discussion as to when a reasonable person is justified in using deadly force. The equal force that is reasonable for a civilian is quite different than the necessary force deployed by a police officer. Carrying in public is a privilege so it is necessary for armed citizens to understand the legal and physical limitations presented in real life situations.

We are not forces of good battling forces of evil but men and women that are imperfect. It is important that as an armed citizen you are not provoking a disturbance in any way. The person that may end up confronting you in a parking lot or other public place has a family and wants to live as much as you do. The best way to confront an angry person is with calm well-measured words but if that other person is presenting deadly force and demonstrating to you that you are in jeopardy, you should not hesitate to stop that individual from taking the opportunity to separate you from your family and those that you love.

The circumstances that justify presenting deadly force are immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm to innocent person(s). Any consent to enter into mutual combat negates innocence on your part and makes you part of the problem rather than part of the solution to the threat of criminal violence. Your words should be chosen carefully, for example, if another driver confronts you in a road rage incident.

If an unarmed attacker assaults you, lethal force is not justified without disparity of force. In other words, you cannot present your weapon if another man attcks with his bare hands- even if he is bigger than you! The bottom line is that you still have to know how to fight. If someone tries to take your weapon from its holster, the equation changes considerably.

There was recently a case in Sturgis, South Dakota where a Hell’s Angel (or several Hell’s Angel’s) had a police officer on the floor and may have been trying to take his weapon when he shot one of his attackers. The fact that the Seattle Police Officer (who was in Sturgis for some extra-curricular motorcycle activity) was on the floor where a boot can deliver a crushing blow, in and of itself put him in jeopardy of death or grave bodily harm.

When you add the fact that there were probably three attackers and they were allegedly attempting to remove his weapon, it is not hard to anticipate that he will probably not be charged with any crimes related to discharging his weapon. A Hell’s Angel went to the hospital and it remains to be seen whether there will be more to the story.

In the legal world every rule has its exceptions. The discussion herein is not intended to impart the details of when to use lethal force. Our only goal is to encourage taking a class because no amount of reading is going to prepare you to fight for your life on the street or in the legal aftermath of a firefight. One thing is certain, at some point you will have to articulate your decisions after the fact and your decisions and statements pertaining to why you decided as you did will have consequences that will determine a great deal about your future. Although most attorneys (including this one) will advise you to remain silent, it is important to identify yourself as the victim of an assault and make sure the officers know who the witnesses are and that you feared for your life. It may also be important to identify potential evidence (e.g., weapons and/or spent casings).

Officers understand the importance of not talking unnecessarily right after undergoing so much stress. Police officers are taught to wait until they can speak with their attorneys after a shooting incident and they will respect your decision to wait until your attorney can be present.

The criteria in determining whether to use lethal force is to look at the assailant’s ability to produce death or grave bodily harm based on what you know at the time that you are forced to make the decision. In other words, even if an attacker is coming at you with no weapon in his hands, you may have a medical condition or know of some previous history on the part of the assailant that puts you in reasonable fear that he will injure you to the point of producing death or grave bodily harm (e.g., he is known to you to be prone to weapons produced from concealment and he kills or maims his victims). On the other hand, if there is any way to avoid taking a life, take the option that spares a life even if that means letting an assailant or intruder in your home run away.

Women are usually considered to lack the upper body strength to defend against a male attacker and so use of deadly force may be justified for a female under circumstances where a smaller, weaker man would be expected to defend without use of a weapon.

Opportunity must also be present. A man with a baseball bat that is 100 yards away from you does not have the opportunity to hurt you no matter how much he verbally threatens to hurt you. On the other hand, an athletic individual with a knife or other contact weapon can run twenty feet and cut you before you can react.

We ran drills in the Lethal Force class and it only takes slightly over a second for a determined assailant to reach you. Unless you are exceptionally well-trained and have quick reflexes, your reaction time (ability to make the decision to draw and shoot) is probably over two seconds. You may hit center of body mass with one or more rounds and be killed by the momentum of a knife-wielding assailant’s body charging at you.

See Jihad.

Ability, opportunity and jeopardy are the criteria. Three men with sheath knives on their belts walking past you on the street have the ability and opportunity to produce death but the mere fact that they are approaching you on the sidewalk does not indicate jeopardy without more. On the other hand, if one of them takes out a knife and demands your wallet… well, it is just possible that you are in jeopardy!

Normally the police will apprehend burglars soon enough and you and I do not have the training to deal with holding an intruder for the police. The “experts” that claim that most burglars are not armed are wrong and when the perpetrators are in the penitentiary they have all day long to practice furtively producing weapons and disarming people like you and I that have some training but not enough.

If you think you are dealing with someone that is determined to come back and harm you and your family and feel that you have to hold them at gunpoint you should not appoach them and you should stay behind cover. Have someone else call, the police and provide your description to the 911 operator along with the fact that you are holding the intruder at gunpoint.

If at all possible, stay in a safe room in the event that a home invasion is occurring and call the police rather than exposing yourself to an intruder that has the tactical advantage (and maybe several friends to back him up). We cannot go beyond the information already provided herein because much of the training information could be used against honest people.

Remember that if you ever have to make such a decision, you are making a split-second decision that you will have to live with the rest of your life. If you hesitate or make the wrong decision, your life may end right at that critical place and time. If you panic and draw your gun where no jeopardy exists, the mere fact that three men on the street had the opportunity and ability to hurt you will not get you out of charges of displaying a weapon with the intent to intimidate or even more serious charges.

So spend the time and money to get trained now. You cannot gain the training you need to exercise your privilege to carry a weapon in public just from a website or a book. The fact that people like you and I are willing to learn from professionals is evidence that we take our responsibilities as armed citizens very seriously and that we are facing the risks honestly.

Please forward our site to friends. Family and friends serving overseas and at home in the armed forces need to know that we appreciate their role in keeping the rest of us safe. Please keep us informed.

In closing, we also need to let members of the armed forces know that we agree with their mission and appreciate their ongoing fight for our freedom. Without our police and armed forces, we could not debate the issues and say almost anything we damned-well please without getting our heads sawed off with a blunt scimitar. The people of Iraq and other countries are also starting to experience peace and freedom from terrorism due to the efforts of our fighting men and women.

Bear in mind that the watchman watches in vain unless God guards the city.

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