The number of active concealed pistol licenses in Washington State soared by more than 11,200 in June, a possible reaction to a continuing spike in violent crime, and it is the second-largest number of CPLs issued in a single month since April 2013 when the number soared by 13,932 licenses, according to new data from the state Department of Licensing.
Last month, there were 644,417 active licenses, which made headlines at Ammoland News, one of the top online firearms news sites in the country. and the total at the end of June was 655,709.
The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms—which is based in the city of Bellevue, Wash.—reacted to the new numbers by pointing to increasing violent crime in the state. That rise in crime, the organization said, is proof that “extremist gun control efforts in the Evergreen State have failed miserably and people realize it.”
“The surge in violent crime is undeniable proof of the total failure of gun control in Washington,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “Since the billionaire-backed gun prohibition lobby started financing extremist ballot measures in 2014, and anti-gun Seattle-area lawmakers began pushing their gun control agenda in the Legislature, Washington murders have gone up, not down. Voters fooled by slick campaign promises are evidently changing their minds.”
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, there were 209 total homicides in Washington in 2015 including 141 committed with guns, the year after voters approved Initiative 594, a measure requiring background checks on nearly all firearms transfers, with exceptions for immediate family members.
By 2020, the number of murders had climbed to 298, including 177 involving firearms. In the interim, voters passed Initiative 1639 in 2018, which banned young adults aged 18-20 from buying so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” and requires proof of gun safety training and a 10-day waiting period for those 21 years and older buying such rifles. The measure also defines “semi-auto assault rifles” to include every self-loading rifle, regardless of caliber, ever manufactured anywhere.
Also in the interim, in 2015, the Seattle City Council adopted a special tax on firearms and ammunition sales in an effort to bankroll a “gun violence reduction” program. Homicides in Seattle have climbed from 19 in 2016 to 43 last year after hitting 52 in 2020. According to the Twitter site for Seattle Homicide (not connected to the Seattle Police Department), Seattle has seen 29 homicides so far this year, and if the pace continues, the city could exceed the body count of 2020.
Two neighboring Washington counties—King and Pierce—account for more than half of all new CPLs over the past two months. King encompasses Seattle and Pierce encompasses Tacoma, both Democrat strongholds.
In May, King County reported 100,716 active CPLs. In June, that number had climbed to 103,220, a difference of 2,504 licenses. Pierce County had 78,728 active licenses in May, and last month added 3,605 more for a total of 82,333 CPLs. Over the past two months, Pierce has added 6,104 active licenses, while more liberal King has added a more modest 3,714 licenses. Still, King County has the highest number of licenses of any county in the state, suggesting even Democrats are more concerned about their personal safety.
Overall, the 655,709 currently active licenses set a new record, eclipsing the 650,403 set on April 1, 2020 just as the coronavirus pandemic caused law enforcement agencies to “suspend” accepting new CPL applications, even though there is no provision for that in state statute.
Washington has been a “shall issue” state for decades, meaning law enforcement agencies must issue a CPL to anyone who qualifies by passing a background check and not being a convicted criminal or is mentally disqualified. Last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down New York State’s restrictive “good cause” requirement had no impact on Washington, other than perhaps discouraging efforts of the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby to change the law. The billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which bankrolled the gun control campaigns in 2014 and 2018, has advocated for reducing the number of CPLs and also for repealing Washington’s 37-year-old state preemption law.
“Violent crime in Pierce and King counties, combined with a reduction in police manpower has obviously resulted in a predictable public reaction,” said CCRKBA’s Gottlieb. “People will protect themselves and their families, and they’re taking that responsibility seriously. These sensible law-abiding citizens realize they are their own first responders.
“The radical gun control agenda, which only penalizes honest citizens, has been championed by Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson,” he added. “Gun restrictions supported by them and pushed by their Democrat colleagues in the Legislature have produced literally less than nothing.”
He asserted that political efforts “to disarm people have resulted in more gun sales and licenses to carry.” Gottlieb said gun control advocates “have been wrong all along, yet they continue to demand even more restrictions.”
“It’s time for the public to stop listening to their nonsense,” he asserted.