Washington working towards change to unified firearm background check system

Local Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders in Washington are being alerted that it is time to register under the new Secure Automated Firearms E-Check (SAFE) system, which you will use to submit firearm background checks as required under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.41.1135. 

According to a letter obtained by KXRO from Assistant Commander Kevin Baird of the Washington State Patrol Firearms Background Division, the state has reached a milestone in the project to change over to the new system, and it is near the point where local FFLs we will actually use the SAFE system for real background checks, in a pilot process.

This next step will be used to determine how the system design works in operation, working out bugs. That pilot is expected to launch with already identified FFLs by the end of June.

 All FFLs in the state will be required to move over to the system by January 1, 2024, and this pilot process is only the first steps.

Images from Washington State Patrol
Images from Washington State Patrol

The migration to the new system will be done in month-long phases by county, from least number of FFLs to most.  

The 5 current Pacific County FFLs will be migrated within Phase 1, while the 17 FFLs in Grays Harbor will be in Phase 2.

As part of the migration process, each FFL can expect an official letter in the next few weeks from the Washington State Patrol Firearms Background Division, which will contain information on initial setup within SAFE.

As we complete each county’s migration, we will be notifying the local law enforcement agencies in that county, so they will know to stop processing Firearm Transfer Applications (FTA) for FFLs in their county or other counties who have already migrated.  

Once an FFL has been migrated to using SAFE, it will be the one and only method to conduct firearm background checks. The use of the FBI e-Check system or submission to local law enforcement agencies will no longer be an option. 

Failure to onboard with the SAFE system will result in the inability to conduct background checks for firearm transfers. 

Local FFLs are directed to visit https://www.wsp.wa.gov/firearms-background-division to register the business and employees.

Assuming the pilot in June goes well, the state will begin the ‘soft launch’ migration in mid to late July, with the hope of completing the migration by the end of October. 


County # of FFLs Phase
Columbia 1 1
Garfield 1 1
San Juan 1 1
Skamania 1 1
Asotin 2 1
Douglas 2 1
Wahkiakum 2 1
Adams 3 1
Lincoln 3 1
Pend Oreille 3 1
Franklin 4 1
Klickitat 4 1
Ferry 5 1
Jefferson 5 1
Pacific 5 1
Whitman 5 1
Okanogan 9 1
Mason 10 1
Walla Walla 10 1
Chelan 11 2
Kittitas 12 2
Skagit 12 2
Grant 15 2
Stevens 15 2
Grays Harbor 17 2
Whatcom 18 2
Cowlitz 19 2
Lewis 19 2
Clallam 20 2
Kitsap 24 2
Thurston 24 2
Island 26 2
Benton 29 2
Yakima 31 3
Clark 52 3
Spokane 54 3
Pierce 69 3
Snohomish 77 3
King 114 3