BELLEVUE, WA – A steady rise in the number of concealed pistol licenses in Washington State shows the public supports gun rights and self-defense, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

Figures obtained yesterday from the Department of Licensing in Olympia showed 448,983 active CPLs, and CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb anticipates that today that figure will reach or exceed 449,000. He noted that Washington is consistently among the top ten, if not the top five states for per capita licensed concealed carry.

Washington’s first concealed carry statute was passed in 1935. In 1983, the state adopted model preemption legislation that was strengthened in 1985 and has become the model for many other state preemption statutes. Washington is also one of the first states to adopt the popular “shall issue” license statute that prevents local police from discretionally preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Washington’s state constitution, adopted in 1889, recognizes the right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.

“The Evergreen State has a strong tradition of gun ownership and licensed concealed carry,” Gottlieb said. “Citizens are very protective of their civil rights, and especially their right of self-defense and defense of their families and loved ones. Recent events have demonstrated the futility of so-called ‘gun free zones’ and it is evident a growing number of citizens are taking responsibility for their own safety.

“Since January, more than 56,200 new Washington licenses have been issued,” he added. “A look around the country shows that Washingtonians aren’t alone. The Illinois State Police estimate they may have as many as 400,000 applications for carry licenses over the next 12 months, which will be the first year that Illinois citizens are allowed by law to obtain such licenses. Look at Florida, Texas and elsewhere, and you will see the same pattern.

“The right of all citizens to bear arms is a cornerstone of our liberty as a free people,” he concluded. “As Washington citizens enter a new year, we expect they will guard that right zealously against efforts to erode it. I would not be surprised to see the number of CPLs reach the half-million mark in 2014.”