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Is it time in Washington for ‘constitutional carry?’

I renewed my Washington Concealed Pistol License (CPL) the other day at the King County Courthouse, walking into the building with the following: A cocked-and-locked .45-caliber pistol, spare magazine, two one-hand-opening pocket knives, a kubotan key ring and at least a couple of small flashlights. It's legal, as noted in my book, Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities.

To get there from the exorbitantly expensive parking lot, I had to stroll through a crowd of derelicts and other colorful-looking citizens (and a few who might have not been citizens), any of whom might have posed a threat to public safety. During my visit, I chatted with a pal in the King County Sheriff’s Department who acknowledged that he never comes to downtown Seattle unarmed. I suggested he just might be busy the rest of the day if he went outside and checked the crowd for outstanding warrants. He did not disagree.

The CPL renewal process took all of 15 minutes. It cost $32. This set me to thinking about what occurred in Arizona earlier this year. That state passed a law eliminating the necessity of a carry permit for concealed carry. Open carry in Arizona has always been legal. Their state constitutional right to bear arms provision is identical to ours. Hmmmm? My colleague in Phoenix, Douglas Little, wrote about the law here. This column discussed it here.

Today, voters will decide the fate of two initiatives aimed at taking the state out of the liquor monopoly business. State officials fear this will cost the state millions of dollars. Golly, the state might have to adjust its spending habits, learn to operate on less, and take a step back out of people’s lives. Oh, the humanity!

How many millions of dollars might there be at stake if the state got out of the CPL business? Give this a little thought. Under current law, out of a renewal fee, $15 goes to the state general fund. $14 goes to the “issuing authority” (your local police or sheriff’s department) and $3 goes to the “firearms range account in the general fund.” There are about 260,000 CPLs in circulation, and more are being issued every day. They're renewable every five years. Do the math. It would certainly be nice to find out that the Legislature has been spending that money on shooting range development and maintenance, but this writer has not seen an eruption of gun ranges in recent memory.

The renewal fee shall be distributed as follows:
(a) Fifteen dollars shall be paid to the state general fund;
(b) Fourteen dollars shall be paid to the issuing authority for the purpose of enforcing this chapter; and
(c) Three dollars to the firearms range account in the general fund.
(7) The nonrefundable fee for replacement of lost or damaged licenses is ten dollars to be paid to the issuing authority.
(8) Payment shall be by cash, check, or money order at the option of the applicant. Additional methods of payment may be allowed at the option of the issuing authority.
(9) A licensee may renew a license if the licensee applies for renewal within ninety days before or after the expiration date of the license. A license so renewed shall take effect on the expiration date of the prior license. A licensee renewing after the expiration date of the license must pay a late renewal penalty of ten dollars in addition to the renewal fee specified in subsection (6) of this section. The fee shall be distributed as follows:
(a) Three dollars shall be deposited in the state wildlife account and used exclusively first for the printing and distribution of a pamphlet on the legal limits of the use of firearms, firearms safety, and the preemptive nature of state law, and subsequently the support of volunteer instructors in the basic firearms safety training program conducted by the department of fish and wildlife. The pamphlet shall be given to each applicant for a license; and
(b) Seven dollars shall be paid to the issuing authority for the purpose of enforcing this chapter.—RCW 9.41.070

So, if the Evergreen State were to opt out of the licensing business – CPLs would still be available for all of the people who travel to other states and want to carry there under a reciprocal agreement or simple recognition (same as a driver’s license) – inside Washington, no license would be required. One could carry openly or concealed and not be concerned with paperwork. This is how it is not only in Arizona, but in Alaska and Vermont.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. Due to the angst being exhibited by some over open carry, there may be an attempt to outlaw it. Good luck with that because open carry is already recognized as legal and constitutionally protected by a couple of appeals court rulings.

But just for argument’s sake, let’s say open carry was outlawed. Guess what? There would immediately be legal action to require the state to issue CPLs for free under Article 1, Section 24 of the State Constitution, which recognizes and protects the “right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state…” There is nothing in that provision about having a license to bear arms. The court battle would strike down the ban.

The CPL was originally intended to do two things: Identify law-abiding citizens who preferred to carry concealed (back in the day, concealed carry was considered the habit of a scoundrel) because the normal mode was open carry. It was only when we got “civilized” that people felt the need to tuck in their sixgun, because they darn sure weren’t going to leave them at home. If a constable stopped you and inquired about that Colt tucked in your waistband, you simply said “I’ve got a permit to carry this way,” and that was the end of the conversation. Our CPL law dates back to 1935; and secondly, raise money. That’s what government fees are all about: Revenue. Anybody who tells you different is a fool or a liar, and you’d get long odds on which is which in Olympia.

In Arizona, they call packing without a permit “Constitutional Carry.” You’re bearing arms under the state constitutional provision, and going about your business. So long as you’re not harming anybody or robbing banks, it should be nobody else’s business, either. Give that a little thought. Isn’t it time Washington State turned back the clock to a simpler time; a time of less government and more liberty and personal responsibility? Hmmmm, again. Turn back the clock. Intriguing concept, don't you think?

Did you vote? If not, why not? Never mind, you don’t have a valid excuse.

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‘Winning Firearms Freedom One Lawsuit at a Time’



America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense in a Violent Age

These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns

Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns

Washington State Gun Rights and Responsibilities


  • Whitney 4 years ago

    Good thing you didn't have to got to Pierce county to renew. Probably be seeing you on the news tonight. If the state was really serious about increasing revenue they would legalize the use of suppressors. Ah but then those are an evil device used only by criminals and asssins. (Sarcastically speaking of course.)

  • Profile picture of jrp1947
    jrp1947 4 years ago

    At least in your state you are light years ahead of California. The men who gave us our independence never envisioned the day when citizens covered by the Constitution and Bill of Rights would not have the right to bear arms to defend this country and their families or that someone would try and define arms meant. Those were simpler times when a person said what they meant and meant what they said. The brain was engaged before mouth and politicians were part time employees. Everyone in politics earned a living doing something else most of the year. There were no professional politicians and laws were debated on merit and not special interests and trade offs in back room deals. That was considered dishonorable. A person right to self defense at least on the expected level of the attacker should be covered under the second amendment and ratified in every state. if it is reasonable to assume most criminals will be using guns then the citizen gets to carry a gun with no questions asked and if the criminal switches from guns to missiles then guess what because the cops are not going to get there until the shooting stops. That is reality folks.

  • Profile picture of ken_grubb
    ken_grubb 4 years ago

    There is at least one problem which could pop up. So long as the RCW 9.41.070 protection remains, then I don't see a problem. However, if that faded or were weakened in any law change, then it could have the effect of opening up the number of places where concealed carry could be banned.

    For the general fund, $15 per license, times 260,000 people, divided by five years, is only $780,000 a year. It's not all that much of a monetary issue, but there is still an expense at the Department of Licensing, maintaining a database, producing reports, etc. Overall, I'd guess any such change would not be budget neutral, but it would be very small.

    A cultural shift would occur as LEOs encountered people carrying guns, without a license, and with no criminal record. However, I'm guessing, at least initially, that gun owners might not like the way they were treated, by some LEOs, during traffic stops while exercising Constitutional Carry.

  • Liberty Bell 4 years ago

    "Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom."

    -- John F. Kennedy

  • PavePusher 4 years ago

    Ken Grubb wrote: "However, I'm guessing, at least initially, that gun owners might not like the way they were treated, by some LEOs, during traffic stops while exercising Constitutional Carry."

    And I'd guess the LEO's would really hate how the Court treated them on obvious Civil Rights infringements.

  • Profile picture of riverworldus
    riverworldus 4 years ago

    I see a second administrative issue. CCW permits can be useful under reciprocity for carry in other states. I would hope that the state would continue to issue them for that purpose.

  • Profile picture of ejt
    ejt 4 years ago

    "The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime."

    “No state shall convert a liberty into a privilege, license it, and attach a fee to it.”

    - Miller v. U.S., U.S. Supreme Court,[319 U.S. 105 (1943).]

    “Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation, which would abrogate them.”

    - Miranda v. Arizona, U.S. Supreme Court,[384 U.S. 436 (1966).]

    “If the state converts a liberty into a privilege the citizen can engage in the right with impunity”

    - Shuttlesworth v Birmingham, U.S. Supreme Court,[394 U.S. 147 (1969).]

    "Officers of the court have no immunity, when violating a Constitutional right, from liability. For they are deemed to know the law.”

    - Owen v. City of Independence, MO,[445 U.S. 622, 100 S.Ct. 1398, 63 L.Ed.2d 673 (1980).]

    The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.

    "A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby.

    "No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it."

    - 16th American Jurisprudence, 2nd Edition, Volume 16, Section 177.

  • robert 3 years ago

    just a thought might sound silly. but cant you make a "Claim of Right" , notarize it and "claim" that a license is an infringment on 2A rights and is hereby null and void in accordance with the Constitution and Magna Carta (Common Law jurisdiction)? Any state statute, ordinance, code or legislation that doesnt have anything to do about violence, p[roperty damage or theft(fraud) shouldnt apply with the individual human beiong..Makes perfect sense on paper. Hence Alaska and Vermont have it right , a License is just a mere "permission" or "registered keeper of a license or fire arm" and is nothing more than an infringment on your right to bear arms. It has nothing to do with stopping criminals, it has everything to do to stop law abiding citizens. I think its a way to track you, call me crazy but i think it is. they should have a law that states" any person who is a resident of WA state (or whatever state your in) who has a valid address, Id, or employment within the State and plan to stay here permanently shall not be debareed the use of arms including not having a license to carry if that individual has a right to own that fire arm (s)". Sort of if you have a right to carry(no criminal record) then you have the right to open carry or CCW carry.

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