Yesterday’s Seattle Times picked up a fraction of a Tuesday story in the Portland Oregonian about the jump in concealed handgun licenses in Oregon, which still lag behind Washington and reflect a national trend that finds more people arming up.
As this column reported, Washington had more than 445,000 active concealed pistol licenses back on Sept. 19, and when Examiner checks again with the Department of Licensing in Olympia next week, that figure will likely shift upwards again. Both Oregon and Washington are "shall issue" states; that is, barring any criminal or mental disqualifications, concealed carry applications in both states must be processed and licenses issued, thus preventing anti-gun authorities from refusing to issue those carry licenses.
According to the Oregonian story, back on July 10, Oregon State Police reported more than 200,800 active CHLs issued by the Beaver State, and that number has also likely climbed over the past two months.
In Oregon, the newspaper said in a revised article, about one in 16 adults is licensed to carry, and the number of CHLs in Oregon increased 22.7 percent during the first six months of this year. Last year, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, there were 92 murders in the whole state, where the population is roughly half of Washington, but greater than the City of Chicago, which racked up more homicides last year than all of Washington and Oregon combined, yet it is discouragingly difficult for a law-abiding citizen to legally have a handgun in Chicago, where there is no legal concealed carry yet despite passage of a carry law in Illinois three months ago.
Nationwide, anecdotal reports suggest that the number of legally-armed citizens is rising, and one can find those reports almost daily from one region or another by checking TheGunWire.com. It’s something of the “Drudge Report” for gun-related stories, whereas TheGunMag.com, which replaced Gun Week about two years ago, still remains what might be called “the news publication of record” for the firearms community.
That Oregon’s rising number of carry licenses gets attention from the Seattle Times while this state’s numbers go rather unnoticed in its pages is noticeable. That is particularly so after it was reported that backers of Initiative 594, the 15-page gun control measure, are today turning in the first batch of signed petitions with the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia.
Meanwhile, supporters of Initiative 591, the simpler measure dealing with background checks on a uniform national standard while preventing gun confiscation without due process, will be gathering signatures at this weekend’s big October gun show at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.
What is behind this increased public interest in being armed for personal protection? Many factors, most likely, but uncertainty about the future and concerns over the Obama administration’s continuing support for new gun control measures are part of the puzzle.
Many citizens, including a growing number of women, have realized that they are responsible for their own safety, and that calls to 911 do not translate to a rescue from peril. They will be the “first responders” to a violent crime at their homes or businesses while the police will still be minutes away.
There is interesting reading in the reader responses to both the Times and Oregonian articles. Reaction is predictably mixed, with a slight edge in sentiment going toward the concealed carry camp.
Outside of Seattle and Portland, the Pacific Northwest is still “gun country” and both states are pretty red when one looks away from the I-5 corridor stretching from Puget Sound to the Willamette Valley.
Last month’s stunning recall of two anti-gun Democrats in Colorado because of their gun control votes earlier this year sent a message that gun owners in the West are not asleep at the wheel, and are willing to fight back to protect not only their lives, but also their Second Amendment rights.