The latest report on active concealed pistol licenses from the Washington State Department of Licensing strongly suggests by year’s end, there will be more than 700,000 legally-armed law abiding citizens licensed to carry, which should give gun owners one more strong reason to resist predicted efforts to repeal the state’s 37-year-old firearms preemption law.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell wants it gone. So does the billionaire-backed and Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility.
Washington was one of the original preemption states. Its statute has become a model for other state laws. Here’s the language that infuriates the gun prohibition lobby:
“The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.”
Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the preemption law, nullifying an Edmonds ordinance requiring so-called “safe storage,” which was written to challenge the preemption law. Seattle adopted a similar ordinance, which now appears to be history, though no court ruling has directly addressed that city’s regulation.
The high court ruling ended a court battle launched nearly four years ago by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association. The victory made national news in the firearms media.
If Washington tops 700,000 carry licenses, that could also make headlines. Washington is the smallest mainland state in the west with the second-highest population and it leans Democrat.
Still, when it comes to their own safety, liberals appear just as interested in Second Amendment rights as their conservative neighbors.
As of Dec. 1, the state reported 698,196 active CPLs, a jump of more than 3,200 since the end of October, when the state had 694,904 licenses. Perhaps ironically, King County—the most populous county in the state and the epicenter of Washington’s far left liberal establishment—boasts the highest number of CPLs, at 109,631. Neighboring Pierce County to the south reported 93,438 CPLs. Pierce is a blue collar county but still leans Democrat.
Both counties have experienced spiking violent crime this year, which sat least partly explains why so many citizens are exercising their right to bear arms under the state constitution.
There are about 7.9 million residents in Washington. Subtract children and people disqualified to own firearms, and roughly 9-10 percent of qualified adults is licensed to carry.
Until the Alliance began actively meddling in state firearms policy, Washington was one of the nation’s most firearms-friendly states with good gun laws. But ever since anti-gunners began successfully pushing increasingly restrictive laws, the number of homicides has climbed, suggesting gun control has failed miserably to fulfill the promises of its proponents.
Liberal politics has resulted in shrinking police manpower, in turn leading to more gun sales to private citizens and the rise in concealed carry.
If the state CPL numbers rise above the magic 700,000 mark, it will set off alarms in the gun prohibition movement, and the media may lament it without ever bothering to figure out why so many citizens in a “blue” state are taking more responsibility for their own safety.