There are now more active concealed pistol licenses in Washington State than ever before, according to new data from the state Department of Licensing, showing more than 5,000 additional CPLs issued in June and more than 13,750 since Jan. 1, going along with the growing national trend toward more concealed carry.
There are now more than 622,000 CPL holders in the state, a new record.
And that apparently is just fine with the nation’s police chiefs, according to data from annual surveys conducted by the National Association of Chiefs of Police. In the most recent survey results available, from the 2017 questionnaire, just over 85 percent of responding top cops answered affirmatively to the question, “Does your department support nationwide recognition of state issued concealed weapon permits?”
That same survey revealed that more than 88.5 percent of respondents think it’s okay for “any vetted citizen be able to purchase a firearm for sport or self-defense?”
NACOP survey results over the past few years have been pretty consistent. The 2017 effort was the 30th annual survey, and results from the 2018 survey are not yet posted on the group’s website.
At the end of May, there were 616,698 active licenses in Washington, and the monthly average is somewhere around 2,200-2,300.
If this seems strange in a state that just saw full enactment of the provisions in gun control Initiative 1639, passed by voters last November, it might be saying something about growing gun owner concerns over what may be coming over the horizon. Washington lawmakers were considering legislation that would have required a mandatory training class for CPL holders but that died. Whether it will be resurrected in 2020 remains to be seen. It’s an election year, and maybe lawmakers may decide to back off on gun control.
At the beginning of 2013, when the old Gun Week started keeping tabs on Washington CPLs, there were 392,784 active licenses in the state. That number has crept upwards consistently, with an occasional downturn, which always seemed to spring back even stronger the next month. According to an article in the New American earlier this year, those CPL holders are a pretty well-behaved crowd.
Washington has a very strong right-to-bear-arms provision in its state constitution, adopted Nov. 11, 1889, when Washington achieved statehood.
But Evergreen State gun owners in recent years have seen their lifestyle and rights under attack, with efforts to erode those rights and discourage gun ownership and concealed carry. There has never been a training requirement in the state to carry concealed. Washington is an open carry state as well, so the full number of people who may be carrying defensive sidearms at any given time is hard to gauge.
Until Monday, people with active CPLs could buy handguns and take delivery on the same day. However, that changed July 1 when the FBI stopped doing background checks via the National Instant Check System (NICS) and instead let the state take over doing checks via each law enforcement agency. There is no single point of contact right now and creating one is reportedly being studied.