The Seattle Times reported that Bloodworks Northwest, an independent, non-profit organization that conducts blood drives to supply more than 90 Northwest hospitals, has set up so-called “pop-up blood drives” in several locations, while unintentionally raising a question for some police and sheriffs’ departments.
If people can give blood safely during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, why can’t they also give fingerprints to complete an application for a concealed pistol license?
Not all agencies in Washington, or neighboring Oregon, have suspended taking carry license applications, but several agencies have, in the state’s more populous counties, for example. Virtually all agencies have been processing renewals, which do not require fingerprinting.
The Second Amendment Foundation has been receiving complaints about this from several frustrated citizens.
“For months we have been unable to apply for our CPL because they can’t take our fingerprints,” a woman named Nancy wrote. “This is ridiculous! We should not be prevented from getting our license in this unprecedented time.”
The King County Sheriff’s Office “suspended” taking applications March 16. They have not accepted a new CPL application for 4 ½ months.
According to new data from the state Department of Licensing, the number of active CPLs in Washington has declined more than 6,800 since April 1. Law enforcement agencies “suspended” taking fingerprints for CPL applications in mid-March when the coronavirus pandemic panic began, and some have not reopened. On April 1, there were 650,403 active licenses. On July 31, there were 643,601 active licenses.
By contrast, in Arizona—where one doesn’t even need a license to carry—the Department of Public Safety reported 359,370 active carry permits on July 9. The number had climbed to 361,516 by Monday, Aug. 3.
While there is likely some attrition, there is anecdotal evidence that many new gun owners have been simply unable to apply. There is not likely a wave of non-renewals accounting for the dramatic four-month decline.
The reason agencies have given for not accepting new applications is “restrictions put in place by the King County Executive and Washington State Governor…While this is a fluid situation, it is anticipated these restrictions will remain in place until King County has been approved to enter Phase 3 of the “Safe Start Washington” reopening plan,” as explained on the King County Sheriff’s Office website.
Blood drives are important during this pandemic scare because, according to published reports, blood donations have declined dramatically but the need for blood has not. The “pop-up” blood drives are being held in such venues as T-Mobile Park, CenturyLink Field, Cheney Stadium and the Paramount Theater, the Seattle Times reported.
An American Red Cross spokesman told KOMO News, “We’ve taken so many precautions to make sure we can meet that need and keep folks safe.”
But the question remains: If an independent group can conduct blood drives safely, why can’t fingerprints be taken safely? As Liberty Park Press reported a few days ago, Washington’s Cowlitz County has found a way to do this and resume accepting CPL applications. There is a growing suspicion that the decision is no longer about spreading a virus as it is political, and that would be about reducing the number of active CPLs in a state where gun owners’ rights seem invariably get short shrift.