The Michael Bloomberg backed gun reporting source “The Trace” recently ran a story dramatically titled, “25 States Will Let You Carry a Concealed Gun Without Making Sure You Know How to Shoot One.” Researched and written by Jennifer Mascia, the story notes that only 24 states require range time or live fire in order to receive a concealed carry permit. And once recognition and reciprocity agreements between states are taken into account, only a few states require a every person who carries concealed to have fired a handgun.
(Note that in The Trace graphic below it says live-fire “training,” but few would characterize the range time spent in most required concealed carry classes as “training.” Really this refers to whether you have to fire a gun as part of the process.)
I have previously written about North Carolina’s concealed carry permit requirements and controversy over people obtaining Virginia non-resident permits (recognized by North Carolina) as a way of “skirting” the NC law. This concern animates Mascia’s Trace investigation, which is also an argument against recently proposed national reciprocity laws.
I have spent a good deal of time looking at the details of various state concealed carry laws — the devil is in the details, after all — and there is indeed a huge variation in what is required to get a permit, even just looking at shall-issue states.
The Trace article reminded me of an earlier news piece I had seen about getting a concealed carry permit in Washington State. The earliest state to go shall-issue — in 1961, well before the shall-issue revolution erupted in Florida in the 1980s — Washington is also one of the most liberal in terms of its concealed carry law.
For those who equate Washington State with the City of Seattle – the latter with its current reputation for Starbucks-drinking, REI-wearing, Microsoft-rich liberals – this would seem to be an unlikely location for the nation’s first shall-issue law. But the area’s transformation into the San Francisco of the Northwest is actually fairly recent. Even today, one need not go far outside of the city proper to find a robust gun culture. Then, as now, much of the state of Washington was very rural, with strong hunting traditions and not a little strain of libertarianism.
This was discovered by msnbc.com reporter Mike Stuckey when he was able to apply for and receive (a month later) a concealed pistol license from the Seattle Police Department in just 22 minutes despite never having fired a handgun before.
Another interesting part of this msnbc.com story, as you can see from the screen cap above, is that the author spent some time with the venerable gun trainer and legal expert Marty Hayes of the Firearms Academy of Seattle and the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network, whose videoed thoughts are shared along with Stuckey’s text.