U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Something—perhaps a combination of “somethings”—triggered a surge in new concealed pistol licenses in Washington State during May, according to new data obtained by Ammoland from the state Department of Licensing, showing more than 7,000 active CPLs have been added since May 1.
Perhaps even more startling, more than half of these licenses were issued in two of the state’s most Democrat-controlled counties, King and neighboring Pierce.
According to DOL data, as of June 1 the state had 644,417 active CPLs. One month ago, that number was 637,354, a difference of 7,063 added to the rolls. In King County, which encompasses the liberal stronghold of Seattle, there are 1,210 additional licenses, bringing the total to 100,716, the first time since August 2020 when there were more than 100,000 active King County CPLs.
But the most aggressive uptick was in Pierce County, which includes Tacoma. According to DOL figures, a whopping 2,499 additional CPLs were reported, bringing the total up to 78,728 (from last month’s 76,229).
What is going on here? Perhaps the citizens in both “blue” counties are reacting to a surge in violent crime. It has been a particularly deadly five months. Tacoma has had more murders than Seattle so far in 2022. And Seattle has been losing manpower for the past two years.
Jason Rantz, afternoon drive-time talk host at Seattle’s KTTH, told Ammoland via email, “It seems obvious and logical that a lack of police staffing combined with a rise in crime — and those two are connected — some would choose to responsibly arm themselves as a means of personal protection. We’ve clearly seen through the crime surge over the last two years that women, in particular, decided to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms.”
The Evergreen State has historically been strong when it comes to gun rights. Only in recent years, with migrations of new residents from liberal states such as California, New York, New Jersey and New England, has there been a political shift to support gun control extremism. Two gun control initiatives—594 in 2014 and 1639 in 2018—financed by the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility brought restrictions that may have given the gun prohibition lobby a sense of accomplishment but actually didn’t accomplish anything.
I-594, which brought in so-called “universal background checks,” was supposed to “keep guns out of the wrong hands.” Yet, in 2016, Washington experienced two high-profile incidents involving multiple victims. In July of that year, three teens were murdered at a party in the suburban community of Mukilteo by a former classmate who legally purchased a Ruger semi-auto rifle, passing a background check in the process. That September, another teen took a .22-caliber rifle from his step-father’s home and murdered five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, about an hour north from Seattle.
So, in 2018, the gun banners were at it again, pushing through I-1639, which invented a definition for a “semiautomatic assault rifle” that encompasses any self-loading rifle, regardless of caliber or design, ever manufactured anywhere on the planet. I-1639 also prohibits young adults under age 21 from buying or owning a semi-auto rifle.
In 2016, Seattle began enforcing a “gun violence tax” on the sale of firearms and ammunition in the city. That year, there were 19 homicides in the city. Statewide, there were 195 murders including 127 committed with firearms.
Jump ahead to 2020, the most recent year for which data is available from the FBI Uniform Crime Report. There were 52 homicides in Seattle, and 298 killings statewide, including 177 involving guns.
Based on the available data, the Evergreen State gun control movement has accomplished less than nothing.
The history of concealed carry in Washington is interesting. Article 1, Section 24 of the state constitution says “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.” Washington has always been an open carry state, and its concealed carry law dates back to 1935. Washington has the highest number of resident CPLs of any state in the West, outside of Texas. Utah has far more active permits, but a majority of those are held by non-residents.
According to the Sgt. Brady Zuagg with the Utah Department of Public Safety, as of June 1, the Beehive State had 713,290 active carry permits. However, 427,601 are held by non-residents, while 285,689 are held by Utah residents.
Prior to the 2020 “temporary” shutdown of government services due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Washington boasted 650,403 active CPLS (April 1, 2020). With the “suspension” of CPL applications that stretched over several months with many police agencies, the number plummeted over the next year to 619,398 by May 1, 2021. But then the slow recovery process began, and it is almost certainly alarming to the Seattle-based gun prohibition lobby. One more month like May, and concealed carry will have recovered from the pandemic losses, and then some.
About Dave Workman
Dave Workman is a senior editor at TheGunMag.com and Liberty Park Press, author of multiple books on the Right to Keep & Bear Arms, and formerly an NRA-certified firearms instructor.