UPDATED: For the second time this year, the Washington State Department of Licensing is reporting a huge surge in the number of concealed pistol licenses issued in a single month, bringing the total of active CPLs to 667,260.
Significantly, it is the second-highest rise in the number of CPLs in a single month since April 2013, when the agency reported a spike of 13,932 licenses. The August rise eclipses the 11,292 upward shift reported for June of this year. Since Jan. 1, Washington has added more than 27,950 active CPLs. Roughly 20-22 percent of all carry licenses are held by women.
In a “blue” state, where Democrats have controlled policy for several years and they have promoted increasingly restrictive gun control, this could suggest a political shift as more people are taking responsibility for their own safety. This comes amid reports of rising violent crime in Pierce and King counties, including more murders in Seattle already this year than there were for all of 2021, and a continuing law enforcement manpower loss.
The new number represents an all-time high in the number of active carry licenses, and full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic slump when the numbers went down from just over 650,000 to about 619,000 over the course of several months in 2020-2021.
King County, which encompasses Seattle—headquarter city of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility gun prohibition lobbying group—shows the highest number of active CPLs of any county in the state, with 105,091 licenses. They are split between 81,867 men and 23,079 women.
Neighboring Pierce County shows the second-highest number, 84,665, including 60,651 held by men and 23,858 held by women.
Third in line is Snohomish County, which borders King County on the north, and encompasses the City of Everett. There, 72,298 CPLs are divided between men (53,677) and women (18,524).
In 2020, the state population was above 7.5 million, so roughly one in 9 or 10 adults in the state is licensed to carry a defensive sidearm.
What is motivating this surge? Probably a number of factors are involved, with concern about violent crime topping the list. According to the Seattle Homicide Twitter page (not associated with the Seattle Police Department), the Jet City has recorded 44 murders already this year. Last year, the city saw 42 slayings for the entire year, according to Seattle Police Department data.
In nearby Bellevue, a more conservative city on the east shore of Lake Washington opposite Seattle, violent crime is well below what Seattle is experiencing, according to the website “Best Places.” Using data from the FBI, the website shows (on a scale from 1 to 100), Seattle’s violent crime rate is 32.3, but in Bellevue it is a paltry by comparison 9.3. The national average is 22.7.
Down in Tacoma, Pierce County, back on Aug. 1, KCPQ News, the local Fox affiliate, was reporting homicides were up 50 percent in the city over 2021. At that time, Tacoma had logged 27 murders.
In Everett, an Aug. 18 report at My Everett News revealed “violent crime is on the rise.” While the number of murders so far this year is a fraction of those in Seattle and Tacoma, the rise matches a regional trend.
In eastern Washington’s Spokane County, there are currently 44,238 active CPLs, with the breakdown at 32,118 men and 12,094 women. Spokane Police Department data shows 11 homicides so far this year, translating to a 37.5 percent increase over the eight slayings in the same time period last year.