The number of active concealed pistol licenses in Washington State has risen more than 61,700 over the past 12 months—from March 31, 2022 to March 31 this year—and while the totals dipped a couple of times, the pattern remains on an uphill trajectory.
Data provided by the state Department of Licensing shows the most recent number of active CPLs in the Evergreen State was 698,147, a surprising number considering that Washington is viewed as a “blue” state politically, and the Legislature, governor and attorney general seem determined this year to make the state as gun-unfriendly as possible.
But Democrats have also been responsible for policies that have reduced police manpower, and have—at least in the eye of many citizens—produced a soft-on-crime environment where increasing numbers of people have felt the need to be responsible for their own safety.
During calendar year 2022, Washington saw 57,140 additional carry licenses issued to private citizens all over the state. The highest number of active CPLs has remained in King County, which is the state’s most populous county and encompasses Seattle, considered to be the center of far left politics in the Northwest, though Portland, Oregon seems to be running hard to capture the dubious title.
King County also has high rates of homelessness, lots of property and personal crime, and a police department in Seattle that has lost hundreds of officers over the past three years.
If the gradual increase remains on pattern, the state will soon see more than 700,000 active CPLs, a threshold that could irritate anti-gunners based in Seattle. The gun control measures they have supported and pushed since 2014 have failed miserably to reduce violent crime, say critics, who look to crime data and the number of homicides around the state, which have only gone upward despite the predictions of gun control proponents.
Data retained by TGM over the years from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports and Seattle Police—and which has been previously reported here—shows there were 209 murders in Washington in 2015, the first full year after the passage of Initiative 594, which mandated so-called “universal background checks. That number included 141 involving firearms.
Jump ahead to 2021, the most recent year for which FBI crime data is available, and the number of homicides climbed to 325, including an estimated 209 involving guns. One caveat is that FBI changed its reporting model in 2020, which appears to have actually reduced local police participation in reporting data. The new reporting model is very user-unfriendly, according to people who try to use it.
While the Washington Legislature this year is trying to ban so-called “assault weapons,” the overwhelming majority of homicides by firearm are committed with handguns. Rifles are used in a fraction of all the gun-related killings, which is reflective of the national trend for as far back as the data goes.
FBI crime data for 2022 will be released in late September or early October.