An Oregon district attorney declared in a letter to the Portland Oregonian Tuesday that, despite his skepticism and concern about “shall issue” concealed carry, citizens who are licensed to carry in the Beaver State “have not been a public safety problem.”
The letter ironically appeared as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lawsuit in Maryland, challenging that state’s antiquated and arbitrary concealed carry licensing structure that gives broad discretion to state officials to deny, essentially on a whim, permits to carry. This column discussed the high court’s action yesterday.
Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Marquis’ letter has been posted on the Northwest Firearms forum. A story about it is also appearing today in TheGunMag.com’s on-line version. Marquis was reacting to an Oct. 8 article in the Oregonian that discussed that state’s steady rise of concealed handgun licenses, or CHLs, as they are called in Oregon.
Marquis’ letter just might be a wake-up call to officials in Oregon and neighboring Washington – and perhaps across the landscape – that the millions of law-abiding citizens licensed to carry are not the people against whom gun control laws should be aimed. It is the criminal element – people who illegally carry without a license because of their age and/or criminal history – that poses a public safety threat.
According to his letter, Marquis was “appalled by the prospect of thousands of drivers packing heat when few really needed to and the risk it would place police officers in…”
“I thought it would be a disaster,” he wrote. “I was wrong.”
This is not the first time a public official has acknowledged that he was mistaken about legally-armed private citizens and how they would conduct themselves. By some estimates, there are more than eight million citizens who legally carry concealed in this country, and more than 445,000 of them live in Washington, and about half that number in Oregon. Curiously, there is no reciprocity between the two Northwest States in terms of concealed pistol license recognition but residents of both states can obtain licenses from the other. Idaho, meanwhile, recognizes licenses from both states.
Marquis has done more than merely acknowledge his erroneous belief about gun owners. It is a rebuff of gun prohibitionists like those at Washington Ceasefire whose political agenda, as this column revealed, includes a desire to reduce the number of Evergreen State CPLs and return this state to the demagoguery of “discretionary issue” that was being challenged in Maryland.
Gun control advocates have a long-standing aversion to widespread concealed carry, and have opposed adoption of shall-issue reforms in every state that has adopted such legislation over the past two decades. Predictions of increased violence and bloodshed over traffic accidents and other problems have not materialized, and some studies suggest that violent crime drops where there is increased gun ownership.
Expect the Marquis letter to become a supporting document in efforts to protect the existing shall-issue statute in Washington during next year’s legislative session.