Washington – –AmmoLand.com)- Washington State added a whopping 37,884 active concealed pistol licenses in 2019—bringing the total to 646,344 on Dec. 31st 2019, according to data from the state Department of Licensing—as the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobbying group, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, is calling for a training requirement, which the state has never before had.
The state Legislature convenes Monday, Jan. 13, and on Friday the 17th, gun owners will gather at the Capitol for the annual Gun Rights Coalition Lobby Day starting at 9 a.m. The theme appears to be “It’s time to fight back.”
If even ten percent of all those who have CPLs in the state showed up, there would be more than 64,000 gun owners delivering a message even the anti-gun-rights Democrat majority couldn’t ignore.
AmmoLand News did some digging back through Licensing Department data. In 2018, the state added 17,711 new CPLs, ending the year with 608,460 active licenses. Back in 2017, the uptick was 25,273 new licenses, with the year ending with 590,749 CPLs in circulation.
Yet in 2018, state voters approved initiative 1639, the measure that defined “semiautomatic assault rifles”—a firearm that doesn’t really exist anywhere but on paper and in the gun control lexicon—and stripped young adults of their Second Amendment right to buy and own any kind of semi-auto rifle, even a .22-caliber rimfire.
Last month, the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility announced its 2020 legislative wish list, and the agenda includes:
“REQUIRE SAFETY TRAINING: Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia require safety training before issuing a concealed pistol license; Washington is not one of these states. Updating our laws to include training requirements will help ensure people carrying concealed weapons know how to safely handle them.”
“RESTORE LOCAL AUTHORITY: If local leaders determine there are events or places where firearms present a high risk, they should be able to act. Our state should allow local governments to put stronger laws into place when it is right for the community.”
The training requirement is clearly an effort to discourage people from obtaining a CPL, and some activists argue it would violate Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution. That provision reads:
“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.”—Article 1, Section 24
A training requirement might be considered an impairment, rather like a literacy test, the argument goes.
The other agenda item is possibly more threatening because it would erase state preemption, which requires gun law uniformity from border to border. Washington's law has been on the books since 1983 and has been a model for other state preemption laws. Anti-gunners want to eliminate that so they can return to a confusing and often conflicting checkerboard of local laws aimed only at entrapping gun owners.
There is no small irony in this push, just days after an armed private citizen stopped a mass shooting at a Texas church. That case has once again brought concealed carry by private citizens into the spotlight.
Washington, the smallest western state, has the second-highest number of active carry licenses in the West, next to Utah. (Texas isn’t included.) It’s an odd situation because Washington is considered politically “blue” due to the dominating Seattle/I-5 corridor Democrat vote. But that may be changing for a number of reasons, gun rights being one of them, followed closely by taxes and government spending. Whatever else gun owners might be, they’re taxpayers.
Speaking of Seattle, the gun control crowd has some explaining to do.
In 2015, the Seattle City Council hastily adopted a gun and ammunition tax, ostensibly to do research and fund some violence reduction programs. The tax was supposed to have raised between $300,000 and $500,000 annually, but it has never come close. In 2016, the city took in $103,766.22 and, according to Seattle Police Department data, logged 18 homicides for the year.
In 2017, the revenue shrank to $93,220.74 and that year saw the number of homicides climb to 28.
In 2018, the city took in only $77,518 with its gun/ammunition tax, and recorded 32 slayings. AmmoLand News is waiting to see the final murder tally for 2019, and there won’t be an update on the tax revenue for several days at least.
But take a look at one other data set from the Seattle police. In 2016, the first full year the tax was imposed, police logged 59 non-fatal shootings and 11 fatalities. In 2017, there were 67 non-fatal shootings and 16 gun-related homicides. The following year, 2018, found 67 non-fatal shootings and 13 gun-related slayings and in 2019, as of Dec. 16, there were 73 non-fatal shootings and 18 fatalities.
That gun tax does not seem to be working well at all in the Jet City, yet proponents stubbornly refuse to admit it. Likewise, Initiative 594, the “universal background check” measure adopted in 2014, also does not appear to have reduced murders in the state.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, 2015 saw 209 homicides in Washington, including 141 involving firearms. The next year, 2016, saw a drop in murders overall (195) and those involving guns (127). But in 2017 and 2018, the numbers crept right back up to 228/134 and 232/138, respectively. So much for additional gun control restrictions reducing homicides.
Washington gun owners are beginning to organize. While they were unable to qualify Initiative 1094, to repeal I-1639, some organizers are suggesting on social media that the ambitious two-month effort was “Round 1.” They may re-file in which case they would have much more time for volunteer signature gathering.
Meanwhile, the next several weeks will see activists and citizen lobbyists busy in Olympia, the state capitol. Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have already called for a ban on the future sale of so-called “assault weapons.”
For Washington State, it appears the “Roaring 20s” have definitely returned.
About Dave Workman