In a remarkable reversal of a long-standing trend, the number of active concealed pistol licenses in Washington State has dropped by 11,000 over the past four months, a fact that might be alarming to gun rights groups, but may also suggest a return of lethargy in the firearms community.
The news comes as Evergreen State gun rights activists are planning two events in Olympia, one week apart. There’s an April 14 event running 5:30-8:30 p.m., organized by the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans, and on April 21, noon-3 p.m. there’s a “March For Our Rights” rally. Both of these events will be held on the Capitol steps.
At the end of November 2017, the Department of Licensing reported to Liberty Park Press and TheGunMag.com that there were 591,366 active CPLs. Monday morning, the agency advised the number had dropped to 580,362 active licenses.
Since January 2, 2013 – when the number of active CPLs hit 392,784 – there has been a steady increase in the interest for acquiring a license to carry a concealed handgun, with but a few dips from month-to-month, according to DOL data that has been retained by TheGunMag.com.
Washington has one of the more user- and constitution-friendly concealed carry laws, a “shall issue” provision that enables any qualified citizen to obtain a license to carry.
Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution, adopted in November 1889, states, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”
In 1912, when Arizona joined the Union, its constitution adopted the same language. All but six other states have right-to-bear-arms provisions in their constitutions, and they appear to all be stronger than the wording of the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment was incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment in the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, a case brought by the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation.
Some members of the WaGuns.org forum have suggested that perhaps the state’s concealed carry interest reached the point of saturation. Others hinted that with taxes rising in many areas, people have had to choose between paying taxes or renewing their carry licenses. A few gun owners have suggested a number of reasons, including people who have died or moved out of the state.
The most dramatic decreases have come in King and Pierce counties, with more gradual declines in Snohomish, Clark and Whatcom counties. The remaining counties all show smaller declines.
One other contributing factor might be harder to pin down. That’s the possible sense of safety from gun control with Donald Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of Congress. But that hasn’t prevented the launching of a gun ban initiative in Oregon, and it would not stop one from being filed in Washington, as has been hinted earlier this year.