How to carry guns in cars, and recent gun theft data

Guns and ammunition sellers allowed to operate, exempted in law from ‘nonessential’ business shutdown

Guns and ammunition sellers allowed to operate, exempted in law from ‘nonessential’ business shutdown

Can you leave your gun in your parked car? And what if someone steals it? Will you get in trouble for that?

The state law RCW 9.41.360 has many of the answers.

“Generally speaking, if a firearm is accessed as the result of an unlawful entry, they are likely not going to be charged with a crime assuming they report the theft within five days (that is directly from the RCW),” Snohomish Police Chief Nathan Alanis wrote. 

Even so, he discourages storing any gun in a car. 

“It’s just too easy for somebody to access it,” Alanis said.

Everett’s city rules have tighter deadlines than the state’s: If the theft happens in Everett, you have a 24-hour window to report a missing gun to Everett police once you realize it’s lost or stolen.

In Everett, there have been 12 guns stolen from vehicles so far this year as of the end of March, city spokeswoman Simone Tarver said. 

Last year, there were 81 gun thefts in Everett, of which 30 were from vehicles. In 2022, there were 164 stolen firearms. Police recovered 98 stolen firearms in 2023, 82 in 2022, Tarver wrote.

State law prohibits carrying any loaded rifles or shotguns in your car. 

Handguns? State law says any handgun left in a car must be locked within the vehicle and out of sight. 

“A locked car, a locked trunk or locked glovebox could meet this definition” of locked, Tarver said after speaking with an Everett Police deputy chief and city attorneys.

There are also in-car gun lockboxes on the market. These bolt on inside a vehicle.

Only people with a concealed carry license can drive around with a loaded handgun.

Leaving a handgun in any unlocked car or visibly in a locked car became a misdemeanor in the 1990s. 

The general state rule limiting people from carrying a loaded pistol in a vehicle unless they have a concealed carry license dates to 1935.