The following editorial originally appeared in The Seattle Times:
Want to carry a concealed weapon here in Washington?
It’s pretty easy to get permission — regardless of whether you actually know how to use it.
Unlike most states that require concealed weapons permits, Washington doesn’t require any kind of gun safety certification before issuing a concealed pistol license. That’s a glaring loophole that lawmakers must fix.
State lawmakers passed a suite of new firearm regulations this session, prohibiting visible firearms at election sites and government meetings, cracking down on untraceable “ghost” guns and banning sales of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
But the state concealed-carry law is overdue for an update.
If you’re age 21 or older, you just need $36, plus the cost of fingerprinting, a Washington ID and a clean criminal record to walk into your local law enforcement agency to get permission to pack a pistol.
If a background check doesn’t turn up a criminal conviction or other court order that renders you ineligible, you’re good to go.
About one in 12 Washington residents are licensed to carry concealed pistols, according to a recent legislative document. But our lax regulatory system places Washington barely ahead of the 25 states that don’t require permits at all.
Of the states that do require concealed-carry permits, 20 require applicants to complete training courses to ensure they can safely handle weapons, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Most attach other safeguards or conditions intended to protect public safety, like giving law enforcement officials discretion to deny problematic applications, or requiring applicants to demonstrate good character or show a reason they need to carry.
Washington does none of this.
State Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, introduced a bill during the 2020 legislative session that would have required concealed permit applicants to complete at least eight hours of training on issues such as safe firearm handling and storage, suicide prevention and conflict resolution.
Importantly, the bill would have required applicants to participate in live-fire shooting exercises to prove they could actually handle a gun.
His proposal, Senate Bill 6294, passed out of the Law and Justice Committee on a split vote but failed to advance out of the rules committee.
Salomon and his colleagues should revive the idea next session.
It’s in the public interest to ensure that every Washingtonian who is licensed to carry concealed weapons knows how to safely use that gun.