The Evergreen State, once considered something of maverick territory with generations of voters that might swing Democrat or Republican, appears to now be firmly in the grasp of anti-rights political activism when it comes to gun rights, and on Tuesday, the House Committee on Civil Rights & Judiciary will consider legislation designed more to impede the exercise of a right than to protect it.
House Bill 1315 is an 11-page effort “to increase the red tape for law-abiding citizens to apply for a Concealed Pistol License,” according to an alert from the National Rifle Association.
Under provisions of this bill, backed by former lawman-turned-politician John Lovick, a Democrat, a person applying for a concealed pistol license will have to provide evidence of handgun proficiency, “in the form and manner required by the Washington State Patrol.”
The bill details how this is supposed to happen. The WSP shall “establish minimum standards for handgun proficiency and shall develop a course to teach handgun proficiency and examinations to measure handgun proficiency.” Part of the course would be in the classroom, part of would be on the range.
But this raises a question. Is this proficiency requirement tantamount to a “literacy test” in order to exercise a constitutionally-delineated right?
Washington has one of the strongest state constitutional right-to-bear-arms provisions in the country, adopted in November 1889 and copied word-for-word by Arizona when it became a state in 1912. There were, at last count, more than 608,000 active concealed pistol licenses in the state, according to the state Department of Licensing.
So, what’s going on here? Washington is a right-to-carry state, and a “shall issue” state. It’s an open carry state. But it is also where Seattle and liberal King County are located, and thanks to an influx of people working in the tech industry, who brought their politics from other parts of the country (California and the East), being a gun owner is becoming more difficult.
The Seattle-based Alliance for Gun Responsibility has successfully pushed through three increasingly restrictive gun control measures since 2014. The first was a “universal background check” initiative that was supposed to keep guns out of the wrong hands, but so far, doesn’t seem to have had much of an impact.
The state has enjoyed relatively low murder levels for many years, and Seattle has one of the lowest homicide rates of a city its size anywhere in the country. Yet anti-gunner continue to harp about an “epidemic of gun violence.”
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, more people were murdered last year in Chicago than were slain in the entire state of Washington with firearms.
The irony Tuesday is that this measure will be the subject of a hearing before the House Committee on Civil Rights. The state constitution specifically protects the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state. That right “shall not be impaired,” according to the constitutional language.
A lot of Washington gun owners are wondering if lawmakers in Olympia fully comprehend that.
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