Evergreen state gun prohibitionists — especially those pushing Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure — may be having their Sunday ruined by a headline story in the Seattle Times that concealed pistol licenses are surging, “especially for women.”
It is part of a nationwide rise in concealed carry, and more importantly, a rise in the number of women who are buying firearms. One woman, Emily Miller, formerly senior opinion editor at the Washington Times and now chief investigative reporter for Fox 5 D.C., wrote a book about her decision to buy a gun for home protection in Washington, D.C. She earned awards for that personal story and has become a role model for other women seeking self-reliance.
While Miller lives in "the other Washington," her story is one that might appeal to any woman who has made the decision to arm herself. As the Seattle Times story indicates, that decision is often inspired by a personal event, as was the case with Miller, who walked in on a burglary while house-sitting for a friend.
According to some recent estimates, more than 11 million Americans are now licensed to carry. Here in Washington, as this column noted early last month, more than 457,000 (not the 451,000 reported by the Seattle Times) active CPLs are in circulation.
Washington has traditionally been among the top five states for licensed concealed carry per capita, as the newspaper reports. Nearly one in five of those people are women, estimated at “more than 100,000.”
Licensed concealed carry in Washington dates back to 1935. The state was a leader in “shall issue” laws, made possible in no small part by the language in the state constitution: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired…” That was adopted in November 1889 when Washington became a state. In 1912, Arizona adopted the same language, word-for-word, when it achieved statehood.
By November, there could be a half-million Washington voters with a CPL, a fact not lost on opponents of I-594, who happen to be proponents of a competing measure, Initiative 591. As increasing numbers of people learn about what gun activists see as hidden problems in the gun control measure, they could opt to vote against it and for I-591.
The latter measure, filed quietly a few weeks before the Seattle-based — and well-financed — Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility (WAGR), requires that background checks done in the state comply with a uniform national standard. It also prohibits government gun confiscation without due process. While both measures qualified, I-591 pulled in a few thousand more signatures.
Compliance with a uniform standard could be a powerful argument. It would not interfere with the tradition of loaning firearms to friends for hunting trips or home protection in emergencies. Proponents of I-594 have tried to sell their measure as one affecting gun sales, but the language clearly says it applies to all gun transfers, an important difference, say gun rights advocates.
While the story notes in a sidebar that I-594 is “backed by faith leaders, public-health officials, gun-safety advocates and others,” it rather short-changes the support for I-591 by saying only that it is “backed by the gun lobby and Second Amendment groups.” That’s not completely accurate.
Protect Our Gun Rights (POGR), the umbrella group backing I-591, is a statewide coalition that includes the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association, Hunters Heritage Council, Washington Arms Collectors, Washington State Rifle & Pistol Association and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
The Seattle Times article is accompanied by a photo essay featuring several women who explain matter-of-factly why they have armed themselves. These are not some “Dirty Harriet” wannabes, but rational people who have, as a popular National Rifle Association program succinctly puts it, refused to be a victim.
On Monday, Examiner will obtain updated CPL numbers from the Department of Licensing, as it has been doing for the past two years. The rise in concealed carry is startling to some, encouraging to others, but it clearly has not resulted in a statewide bloodbath, a favorite contention among anti-gunners who would like to reduce or eliminate legal carry by private citizens.
Last week, Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington CeaseFire, told KVI’s John Carlson that he would like to see the state revert to a “may issue” system, where police can arbitrarily deny a CPL application. This was in reaction to the attack in Santa Clara by a 22-year-old who killed half of his victims with a hammer and knife. The California killer did not have a carry permit, and California is a “may issue” state.
That fact is not lost on Paul Jacob, writing today for Town Hall. He observes, “The real protective element in society is us. If more people were better armed, the latest spree murderer may not have shot as many people. Concealed carry permits, were they more readily available in California and elsewhere, might indeed spark more caution from evil men like the (killer). He did, after all, confess to plotting his spree to focus on areas where he expected the least resistance.”
The media and political focus following that tragedy has been on gun control, when clearly guns only played half a part. Anti-gun politicians continue to rail on the crime and demand so-called “solutions” while overlooking the obvious. California, where the attack occurred, already has all of the gun laws in place that gun prohibitionists had pushed as preventive measures to such crimes.
Even Congresswoman Lois Capps, a Democrat quoted by the Washington Post Friday, displayed ignorance of her own state’s laws. Capps represents the district where the attack occurred and the newspaper quoted her as calling for “universal background checks” (UBC) and “limits on high-capacity magazines.”
The alleged killer in Isla Vista passed California’s UBC each of the three times he bought handguns over the past year and a half. All of the magazines recovered by police were legal ten-rounders under California law. The dead suspect also went through the state-mandated waiting periods, another popular demand on the gun control agenda.
The UBC is invariably pushed to close some mythical “gun show loophole” that invariably is mentioned in reaction to mass shootings. A careful look at history shows that none of the mass shooters got their guns from gun shows. Killers at Tucson, Seattle’s Café Racer and Jewish Federation office, Aurora’s “Batman massacre,” Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, and both Fort Hood attacks all bought their guns at retail and all cleared background checks. Adam Lanza murdered his mother and stole her guns to attack Sandy Hook.
As bad luck would have it, women have invariably been among the victims of mass shooters. Sunday’s Seattle Times article shows that growing numbers of women are taking responsibility for their own safety, and the safety of their families. This newfound self-reliance could guide how they vote on issues that could affect their right to own and carry firearms. That is never clear until election day.