By Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
OLYMPIA — A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants to complete a safety course.
Senate Bill 6294 would require conceal-carry permit holders to complete eight hours of training that would include safe handling and storage of firearms, state laws regarding the use of deadly force, conflict resolution, suicide prevention and live-fire shooting exercises.
Presently, conceal-carry permits are valid for five years, require only a criminal background check by local law enforcement, and require the applicant to be over age 21.
Under the proposed law, conceal-carry applicants would have to show proof of completed training within five years of their application, and the training course would need to be sponsored by law enforcement, a college or university, or a certified firearm training school. Law enforcement professionals and people who have already received the training and are seeking renewal would be exempt.
Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley, said he believes that forcing this kind of training on conceal-carry permit holders could be unconstitutional. He proposed incentives to similar training instead. Conceal-carry permit holders across the U.S. “are among the most responsible and law-abiding citizens that you can find,” Wagoner said.
On Jan. 20, stakeholders and concerned residents like Lauren Owen of Moms Demand Action testified before the Senate Law and Justice Committee. Owen urged committee members to support the legislation, claiming that Washington is one of the few states that does not require training for concealed carriers.
“Research has shown that gun users with less training are more likely to unintentionally shoot innocent bystanders,” Owen said.
Sharyn Hinchcliffe, a representative of Pink Pistols, a LGBTQ gun rights advocacy group, urged the senators to reject the bill on the basis that it would impede individuals’ rights to self-defense.
“It would place undue burdens, financial and time, on individuals who do not possess the funds available to go search out training,” Hinchcliffe said.
She said parts of the state do not have adequate resources and programs available to fulfill the training requirements. Hinchcliffe said there are no firearm training schools within 25 miles of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle.