U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- Against the backdrop of a push for gun control by Democrats on Capitol Hill, Democrats in the Washington’s state Legislature are pushing a pair of bills, one in the Senate and its companion in the House, that amount to a guide for anti-gun state lawmakers anywhere to reduce the number of concealed carry licenses or permits by discouraging applications and renewals via extremist requirements.
Joe Waldron, former executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and past president of the Washington Arms Collectors, contended in an email to several colleagues that the two bills, SSB 5174 and HB 1315 “serve no useful purpose other than to reduce…significantly” the number of active concealed pistol licenses in the Evergreen State, which now hovers around 613,000, the highest number of any western state.
But for the first time in the state’s history, anti-gun-rights lawmakers want to slap possibly the strictest training requirements in the West on those armed citizens.
A bit of history is in order. Washington’s concealed carry statute dates back to 1935. While the law has gone through several changes, the tradition dates back nearly 75 years. Prior to that it was not uncommon for Evergreen State citizens to openly carry sidearms thanks to the state’s right-to-bear-arms constitutional provision, which reads:
“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”—Article 1, Section 24, adopted Nov. 11, 1889
Under the proposed legislation, anyone applying for a concealed pistol license would have to take a minimum of eight hours of instruction to include the following:
- Basic firearms safety rules
- Safe handling of firearms
- Firearms and suicide prevention
- Safe storage of firearms to prevent unauthorized access and use
- State and federal firearms laws, including prohibited firearms transfers
- State laws pertaining to the use of deadly force for self-defense
- Techniques for avoiding a criminal attack and how to manage a violent confrontation, including conflict resolution
- Firearms and children including safe storage of firearms and talking to children about firearms safety
- Live-fire shooting exercises on a firing range that include a demonstration by the applicant of safe handling of, and shooting proficiency with, each firearm that the applicant is applying to be licensed to carry
Waldron, a retired Marine Corps Lt. Colonel, raises some questions about all of this. For decades, he noted, there has never been what amounts to a “literacy test” (he calls it a “poll test”) in order to obtain a CPL.
Many people are asking who teaches such a course? How much will it cost? Where and how often will it be offered? Where are the shooting ranges to accommodate all of the people taking the course?
“Why now,” he wonders. “Where is the problem that has never made itself obvious until 2019? How frequently is the law abused? It’s not.”
He notes that one line of the proposed law strikes this language: “The applicant’s constitutional right to bear arms,” replacing it with “An application for a concealed pistol license” shall not be denied, unless…and then details several reasons for denial.
“The intent of (the legislation) is clearly to impair an individual’s right to bear arms,” Waldron asserts.
He believes the reason for striking a reference to the constitutional right to bear arms is to sever the concealed license program “from the fundamental, enumerated right listed in Article 1, Section 24.”
The landmine contained in the bill is a requirement for anyone applying for a CPL to provide proof that he or she has completed “a recognized” firearms safety training program within the last five years.” Because the lifespan of a Washington CPL is five years, this translates to requiring repeat training every time someone renews their concealed carry license.
“Why duplicate renewal training every five years, other than to discourage renewal of the license,” Waldron wonders. “Do we make drivers take a new driving test or even a written test every renewal cycle? No.
“Most of the states that mandate a training requirement to acquire a concealed carry license merely state that the individual must pass a suitable course,” he notes, “typically conducted by a nationally-recognized gun safety organization such as the National Rifle Association. And rarely do they require refresher training.”
But what if the state makes it impossible for instructors to be certified? What happens if courses are limited and inconveniently scheduled? One sure way to eliminate concealed carry is to require training that is never available.
If this legislation is adopted in a state that has never before had a training requirement, it will provide a road map to anti-gunners in every other state on how to reach their goal of severely limiting, if not eliminating, lawful concealed carry, which is now exercised by some 17.5 million citizens, according to some estimates.
Washington state gun owners have concluded that they are being used as guinea pigs by anti-gunners to see just how much they will tolerate, before either submitting to the demagoguery or simply moving to a more gun-friendly state.
There is no small irony in the fact that, while Washington lawmakers want to make it tougher to carry, the new governor of Oklahoma just signed “constitutional carry” legislation allowing permitless carry, starting this fall. South Dakota’s new governor signed similar legislation in January.
Evergreen State activists have been emailing their legislators and calling the Legislative Hotline in Olympia, urging that the proposed laws be rejected.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.