For the second time in less than a year, the number of active Washington State concealed pistol licenses has exceeded 590,000, with the state Department of Licensing reporting Wednesday that there are now 594,812 citizens licensed to carry in the Evergreen State, a new record.
This revelation came as backers of a controversial gun control initiative on the November ballot have acknowledged via email that the measure is a “blueprint” for other states.
The number of active CPLs also represents a surge in concealed carry since the last report Aug. 1. The past 35 days have seen a whopping 6,493 additional licenses added to the state statistics. The additional CPL holders appear to be dispersed around the state, and it might be one result of increased interest and concern about Initiative 1639. That’s the 30-page gun control measure backed by a Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying group and sponsored by the
If those licensed citizens also turn out to be single-minded about how they vote on a gun control measure, the initiative could be in trouble, no matter how many millions of dollars its backers spend in a campaign. The number represents roughly 13 percent of the 4,297,536 registered voters in the state.
At the end of July, there were 588,319 active CPLs, according to the Department of Licensing. Previously, at the end of November 2017, there were 591,366 active licenses, but that was followed by a four-month decline that saw some 11,000 CPL holders drop from the state rolls.
Historically, Washington has always been among the top states for per capita concealed carry. Only in recent years has the Evergreen State been considered “blue” but that may even be a false impression because outside of the Seattle area, or away from the I-5 corridor communities that also include Tacoma, Everett, Bellingham, Olympia and Vancouver, the state is politically purple in some places and bright red in others, especially east of the mountains.
The new number is part of the 17.25 million Americans licensed to carry across the country, according to the latest estimate from the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Another state with a climbing number of carry permits is Arizona, where there are more than 336,360 active permits in circulation, according to data from the Department of Public Safety. That’s up from the 333,571 at the end of July.
There is no small amount of irony in the new Washington CPL numbers. It comes on the heels of Tuesday’s launch of the fall campaign to pass I-1639, which the sponsors acknowledged in an email blast is “a blueprint that other states – from California to Florida and Virginia – can use to reduce gun violence without worrying about whether Congress will act.”
“The gun lobby is doing everything they can to obstruct I-1639 because they know its importance extends far beyond our borders. It’s a blueprint that other states – from California to Florida and Virginia – can use to reduce gun violence without worrying about whether Congress will act. This has the gun lobby worried – and they’re coming after us relentlessly.”—Safe Schools/Safe Communities email
The sponsors are claiming that I-1639 will “keep semi-automatic assault rifles out of dangerous hands,” which may be wishful thinking, considering that Initiative 594, passed in 2014, was sold to the voters as a tool to keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent deadly shootings, and it didn’t do either of those things.
That initiative did not prevent the 2016 shootings in Mukilteo that claimed three teen lives, nor the Cascade Mall shooting a few months later that resulted in five fatalities. It didn’t prevent the homicide number in Seattle from rising by 50 percent in 2017 from 2016.
I-594 mandates so-called “universal background checks.” The Mukilteo teen perpetrator passed a background check. The Cascade Mall shooter didn’t bother with a background check by taking a rifle from his stepfather’s home, apparently without permission.