But you knew that – right?
This week, I received my CPL (concealed pistol license) in the mail. I had applied for it in May of this year. Firearms laws in the state of Washington are fairly straightforward, even if some are plainly ridiculous. Washington is a “shall issue” state where concealed carry is concerned. This means that if you are over 21 and can legally possess a firearm in this state, the state “shall issue” you a permit for concealed carry. There are no other restrictions. There are no restrictions on open carry other than certain places are “firearms-free” zones – such as schools and courthouses.
While the state does have one “quirk” concerning the definition of a person that is legally allowed to possess a firearm (more on this shortly), the background check for issuing a CPL is not much more involved than a standard NICS check. This should take a matter of hours, a few days at most. Six months is ridiculous. There were no complications with my application, no follow-up questions, no additional documents requested. After waiting for months I sent emails asking about the status of my permit. I was assured nothing was wrong, that the agency was simply behind and overwhelmed by volume.
One might reasonably ask since there are no additional requirements such as documented safety training, what is the reason for the required permit? After all, legally there is no difference in the requirements between open carry and concealed carry – other than the permit itself. If the state is so incompetent that it can not get a two-hour job done in under six months, maybe it should get out of the business of issuing a permit that has no tangible effect.
As most familiar with the topic know, under federal law anyone convicted of domestic violence is barred from possessing a firearm. Washington state has very similar wording in state firearms law. With one small quirk. The state has quietly redefined the word “convicted” – but ONLY in the context of firearms possession. Some people in this state (the numbers are probably small but significant) that have been arrested for DV but never plead guilty and were never convicted of a crime, are never-the-less barred from possessing a firearm in the state. This is in spite of the fact that under federal law they can legally possess a firearm. Such people pass a NICS check because Washington does not report these cases to the NICS system – because they do not align with federal law. These people are not likely to even know they are barred within the state unless they try to purchase a handgun or apply for a CPL. This is another case of government incompetence. If Washington’s possession criteria aligned with federal criteria, this situation would not be.
In my correspondence with the issuing agency, they said they had an unprecedented volume of applications since the start of the pandemic. No doubt true. And no doubt driven by the same things that have ammo shelves empty and record firearm sales recorded in the same period. More government incompetence. I’ve seen surveys too numerous to quote here indicating that the breakdown of the rule of law in the face of riots, arson, looting, assaults, and even murder is to a significant degree driving sales of firearms and ammunition. Not to mention the continued rhetoric of Democrat politicians seeking to disarm citizens.
The state of Washington does not require safety training for a CPL. Safety training is required to get a hunting license and to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, but not to buy a pistol or apply for a CPL. This brings me to another example of the disconnect between what conservatives resist and how progressives perceive that resistance.
I’ve never met a firearm owner that had anything against safety training, not one. Many oppose state-required safety training. Progressives interpret this completely wrong. No one is against safety training, the objection is to government incompetence implementing it. The state would have to approve the training course – more permits, more waiting, more cost. The current requirement for semi-automatic rifles is a joke – you can take it online – you don’t even have to show up in person. This isn’t doing anyone any good – it’s just more cost, time, and inconvenience. At least the hunter safety training is hands-on.
This permit arrived in the mail within days of the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in a New York case involving that state’s laws governing the issue of carry permits. New York law is far more convoluted than Washington, but if I understand correctly, the permits in question are required to carry a firearm at all – open or concealed. I hope New York loses the case. They are going to be hard-pressed to demonstrate the law is not an infringement on the Second Amendment. Washington, with no open carry restrictions, would at least be able to argue that everyone is permitted to carry a firearm in some fashion, not New York. I made a half-hearted attempt at reading the relevant New York laws, and frankly, I find it difficult to see how any resident of that state could do anything with any firearm and stay inside the law (short of leaving it locked in a safe at home). New York state government seems to think only they are competent to determine whether or not their citizens “need” to carry a firearm.
As a final note let me say that I’m not a fan of open carry, at least not anymore. When I was young the media had not yet succeeded in attaching a stigma to the owning and carrying of firearms. Carrying a sidearm openly was not all that unusual – particularly in rural areas – and it did not cause alarm. The general attitude then was that if someone wanted to carry a concealed weapon, they might be up to no good – and so should be subject to a little more scrutiny. After all, if you’re not up to no good, why not carry openly? Well, times have changed and the media has succeeded in attaching a stigma that many find alarming. Times being what they are, if a permit is to be required at all, I would rather see a permit required for open carry. Even though it really shouldn’t, open carry tends to alarm people unnecessarily, and far too many interpret it as some form of threat or intimidation. Better for everyone to keep that hardware hidden.