Why Washington May Become Tougher Nut to Crack for Anti-Gunners

Washington State has more than 616,000 active concealed pistol licenses, according to new data. (Dave Workman)

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Two weeks after the legislative death of a controversial, and highly-contested, gun control measure that would have established an extreme training requirement for Washington State concealed pistol licenses, the state Department of Licensing released updated figures on the number of active CPLs in the state, and it is up more than 3,600 over the number in February.

As of April 1, there were 616,529 active CPLs in the Evergreen State, a fact that may offer a hint about the opposition to a proposed requirement which was obviously designed to dramatically reduce that number. Since January, Washington has added more than 8,000 licenses to the rolls.

This is happening while in neighboring Oregon, the Democrat-dominated Legislature was holding a hearing on the 44-page behemoth Senate Bill 978. The bill was described as “the distillation of several dozen gun bills introduced earlier this year,” by the Salem Statesman-Journal. Opposition to the bill was so heavy that the crowd spilled over into at least two “overflow” rooms.

This bill seems to include everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. Jammed in the text are provisions covering so-called “safe storage,” banning “undetectable” and “untraceable” firearms and a couple of erosions of state preemption. One tenet would allow local regulation of firearms in public buildings and the other would let retailers set higher minimum age limits to buy firearms, the newspaper noted.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Gov. Kate Brown declared, “The omnibus bill before you makes several common sense changes to Oregon’s laws to continue this very important work.”

Most of the people attending the hearing didn’t think the proposed changes make any sense at all.

North of the Columbia River, Washington had its share of gun control efforts this year as well, with some onerous ones such as the concealed carry training measure, biting the dust. But that only means they could resurface next year, either as legislation or as a billionaire-funded citizen initiative.

The recent history of concealed carry in Washington provides something of a mystery. The state is considered politically blue because the liberal Seattle/I-5 corridor demographic has been steadily moving farther to the political left. All one needs to be supported by Seattle voters is to have a “D” beside his or her name.

But get away from the Puget Sound basin and the Evergreen State turns various shades of red, with sheriffs in rural counties vowing to not enforce provisions of a controversial gun control initiative passed by voters last November.

Into this mix comes the state’s concealed carry movement and it is impressive. Since January 2, 2013, the state’s active concealed carry figure has spiked roughly 30-35 percent, when there were 392,784 active licenses according to DOL data. In the short course of six years, the state’s political complexion drifted left dramatically but added 223,745 CPLs, which is more licenses than some states have on the books. Last fall, Democrats gained greater control in Olympia and earlier this year, Gov. Jay Inslee, a far-left climate change activist, declared for the presidency, although he currently trails in last place, according to some polls.

Washington has had a concealed carry law since 1935, and it was a pioneer state in terms of “shall issue” laws. There has never been a training requirement to obtain a license in Washington, where the applicant must have a clean criminal record. There’s a background check, fingerprints are required and the waiting period can run from 30 to 60 days, depending upon the length of one’s residency.

All those legally-armed citizens make the state’s anti-gunners nervous. The Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility—the billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobbying group that has been behind three gun control initiatives since 2014—supported the training requirement. Perhaps lawmakers looked at the possibility of angering more than a half-million voters and decided to let the training bill die.

Roughly one in ten adults in the state of Washington have a CPL.

Washington has traditionally been in the Top 10 states where concealed carry is concerned, but that has changed slightly in recent years as more Americans are getting licenses and permits to carry.

They have the advantage of one of the strongest and most straightforward right-to-carry state constitutional provisions in the country. Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution says this: “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.”

Oregon’s RKBA provision is Article 1, Section 27 of the State Constitution, which reads, “The people shall have the right to bear arms for the defence of themselves, and the State, but the Military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil power.”

About Dave WorkmanDave 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.