UPDATED: New data from the Washington State Department of Licensing revealed that as of July 31, there are 627,497 active concealed pistol licenses in the state, and more than 100,000 of those are found in King County, which encompasses Seattle, the state’s beehive of anti-gun activism and Democrat politics.
Perhaps by no coincidence, authorities in North Carolina also report a healthy surge in concealed carry interest. That state’s Bureau of Investigations reported that the number of active permits has risen from 177,787 in 2010 to 647,553 on January 1 of this year, so that number has likely gone up from there.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, there are more than 17.5 million active concealed carry licenses and permits in the U.S. Washington’s continuing climb strongly suggests that number will keep rising, especially in regions where police services are being cut back and there are reports of low staffing in local police agencies.
This new concealed carry record in Washington comes at an interesting moment. Wednesday saw the election of longtime state Rep. Laurie Jinkins to the post of state House Speaker, according to the Seattle Times. Jinkins, of Tacoma, has long been supportive of stricter gun control laws, and her new role essentially puts her in charge of which bills move forward. Evergreen State Second Amendment activists are predicting trouble ahead. Jinkins is the first woman to ever hold the speaker’s position in Washington history.
Washington has long been one of the top states for concealed carry, with roughly one in ten adults licensed to carry. It is also an open carry state, with a relatively small but devoted open carry movement, and no license is required for law-abiding citizens to carry sidearms peaceably. Washington has one of the strongest state constitutional right-to-bear-arms provisions in the nation, dating back to November 1889 when statehood was achieved.
But the state has also seen the rise of a billionaire-financed gun prohibition lobby, headquartered in Seattle. The Alliance for Gun Responsibility Victory Fund has supported Jinkins in the past. Since 2014, the anti-gun-rights group has supported three gun control initiatives that have been rejected in rural counties but passed in urban counties.
How this new concealed carry data may affect that is a matter of speculation. Republican State Sen. Phil Fortunato suspects it will not be given much attention by Capitol anti-gunners who, he says, treat gun control like a religion.
Liberty Park Press reached out to Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp for a comment. Culp is a police chief in the small city of Republic, which is the Ferry County seat. He is running with what appears to be considerable early support from people in western Washington.
He said via email that with about 7.5 million residents in the state, in his opinion the number of CPLs should be higher.
Culp last November announced he would not enforce provisions of gun-restrictive Initiative 1639, a move that brought him national attention. He also wanted Republic to be declared a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.”