Washington State’s active number of concealed pistol licenses has climbed by more than 7,000 between mid-May and mid-June, the period during which the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR) filed its citizen initiative to the State Legislature, pushing for gun control in the guise of expanded background check legislation.
The state Department of Licensing told TGM via e-mail June 17 that there are now 433,223 active CPLs. On May 13, the last time TGM checked with the agency, there were 426,180 CPLs in circulation. That’s a difference of 7,043 carry licenses in just over a month.
The WAGR initiative was filed June 11. If it gathers enough signatures – a strong likelihood because of the organization’s big money backing by a Seattle venture capitalist – the measure will be sent to lawmakers in January. They can simply approve it, put it on the ballot or offer an alternative measure and then both initiatives would be on the November 2014 ballot.
Washington has seen a steady climb in the number of CPLs for more than two years. Last year ended with 392,784 active licenses. That’s more than 40,400 CPLs issued in the Evergreen State since the first of the year, which is more than the total number of new carry licenses or permits issued annually in some states.
For Washington, that averages to about 8,000 licenses issued per month since the start of 2013, which is a considerable bump in volume from last year’s average at this time of about 2,500 to 3,000 CPLs.
It would be speculation to suggest that the rise in CPLs was connected to the filing of the initiative.
Washington is one of the original “shall issue” concealed carry states. There has been some kind of concealed carry statute on Washington’s books since 1935. The state was also one of the first to have a preemption law, which became a model for many other states. Washington’s preemption statute was first adopted in 1983 and updated in 1985.
Over the past couple of months, TGM has noted that local sheriff’s offices and some police departments have been swamped with new CPL applications and renewals. The problem is exacerbated by some departments only taking applications at certain times and days, which appears to run afoul of state law requiring agencies to take applications during regular business hours.