U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Crime data revealed in the 2019 FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR), released a few days ago, creates something of a statistical problem for Washington State gun prohibitionists, belying one of the long-standing contentions of the entire gun control movement: more guns in private hands leads to more murders.
According to the new FBI data, there were fewer homicides in the Evergreen State last year; a 12-month period during which, according to statistics obtained by Ammoland News from the Washington State Department of Licensing, the number of active concealed pistol licenses (CPL) increased by nearly 38,000.
This could have national implications because the Evergreen State has become something of a “test-tube” for gun prohibitionists. They try something in Washington and see how it works. They refine and tailor their efforts to other states.
As noted by researcher and author John Lott, head of the Crime Prevention Research Center, during the recent Gun Rights Policy Conference, estimated there are now around 19.5 million people with concealed carry licenses or permits across the country. How many more would there be if the process hadn’t been interrupted by the coronavirus shutdown?
Washington, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic panic in mid-March, had a continuing strong monthly increase in the number of CPLs. However, when police and sheriff’s departments “suspended” accepting new applications because they required fingerprinting, a one-on-one close contact process, the number of CPLs began sliding.
There is no provision in state statute that allowed agencies to suspend accepting applications. Here is what the statute says, right up front in Section 1:
“(1) The chief of police of a municipality or the sheriff of a county shall within thirty days after the filing of an application of any person, issue a license to such person to carry a pistol concealed on his or her person within this state for five years from date of issue, for the purposes of protection or while engaged in business, sport, or while traveling. However, if the applicant does not have a valid permanent Washington driver's license or Washington state identification card or has not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive ninety days, the issuing authority shall have up to sixty days after the filing of the application to issue a license. The issuing authority shall not refuse to accept completed applications for concealed pistol licenses during regular business hours.” (Emphasis added.)
Now, six months into the coronavirus scare, many agencies have resumed taking new applications, including the King County Sheriff’s Department. As of Thursday, Oct. 1, according to a bulletin on that agency’s website, “we will resume processing of NEW Concealed Pistol Licenses – by appointment only at our downtown location. A link for our new scheduling tool QLess is below. The QLess system will allow you to schedule your appointment online or using your smart phone. If you do not have online access, please contact our office at 206-263-2626 to schedule your appointment.”
King is the most populous county in the state, and while it is the headquarters of the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility and the lesser-endowed Washington Ceasefire, it has the highest number of active CPLs of any county in the state. In 2019, that number climbed from 99,738 to 103,787, but as of Thursday morning, Oct. 1, it has dropped back again to 99,966, suggesting there may be a fair number of King County residents eager to apply.
For the entire state in 2019, the number of active CPLs shot upward from 608,460 to 646,344. By April 1 of this year, that number had increased to 650,403, translating to roughly one in nine or ten eligible Washington adults who were licensed to carry. At the time, there were 104,202 active CPLs in just King County, but that was before law enforcement agencies “suspended” the new application process because of the coronavirus.
Renewals have been allowed, because the fingerprinting process does not need to be repeated for a renewal. Over the spring and summer, CPL numbers declined nearly 11,000, yet gun sales in the region have gone up, reflecting a national trend. New statistics obtained Oct. 1 from the state show the active CPL number at 639,564, a decline of 10,839 CPLs since the pandemic-inspired “suspension” on new applications began.
Gun dealers estimated that roughly 40 percent of their customers have been first-time buyers, spurred first by the pandemic and more recently by continued unrest and even rioting, especially in Seattle.
Now that new applications are being accepted, agencies statewide will need to scramble to accommodate the thousands of citizens who have been waiting to get their CPLs.
But here’s a problem for the gun control crowd. In 2018, according to the FBI UCR, Washington experienced 232 homicides including 138 involving firearms. Last year, the FBI report says there were 194 murders, of which 135 involved firearms, a slight reduction during a year in which the state reported 37,884 new CPLs in circulation.
There is another statistical problem for anti-gunners. In 2018, the Alliance pushed through gun control Initiative 1639, which placed restrictions on so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles.” That year, there were only two (2) confirmed rifle-related homicides in Washington state.
Last year, the FBI report says, there were five (5). It doesn’t appear the restriction worked. Indeed, the results were exactly opposite of what anti-gunners predicted.
But this raises yet another problem, and it applies to gun control extremism across the country. Rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of all murders in any given year. The FBI data has shown that repeatedly, yet anti-gunners have been pushing for a ban on private ownership of “assault rifles,” which are in reality semiautomatic modern sporting rifles. They may outwardly resemble military weapons, but the similarity ends there. These are not “weapons of war,” as they have been deliberately mischaracterized, and the gun ban lobby knows it.
And now they have another concern: Amy Coney Barrett. President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a constitutional-minded jurist with what many say are superb qualifications to sit on the high court. If she is confirmed—as appears likely—the extremist gun control agenda could be in real trouble.
In a panicky email blast, the Alliance told followers, “It is hard to overstate the implications her (Ginsburg) passing could have on the future of gun safety in the United States. All of our progress on gun violence prevention is at risk. (Emphasis in original). If her seat is filled with a Trump nominee, all our hard-won gun responsibility laws—from background checks to concealed carry restrictions—could be undone.
“This hits close to home,” the message continued. “Initiative 1639, the voter-approved restrictions on semi-automatic assault rifles, is still being challenged in court. We know the law is constitutional, but an activist Supreme Court could decide otherwise, jeopardizing this lifesaving measure and so many others.”
The following day, anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety also sent an email to its supporters asserting, “A Trump-nominated justice would be a threat to gun safety across the country. We can't let that happen.” (Emphasis in original).
Clearly, the gun prohibition lobby is terrified of a potential 6-3 pro-rights majority on the Supreme Court. If that happens, groups including the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association, Firearms Policy Coalition and others will no doubt be filing a stack of gun law challenges.
The challenge to Washington’s I-1639 is being appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court in San Francisco. Depending upon how that turns out, this is one case that just might wind up before a pro-2A Supreme Court, and gun owners in Washington State might be able to recover lost ground, along with fellow gun owners across the country.
About Dave Workman