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’