Concealed weapon permits on the decline

While applications for concealed weapons permits in 2003 are slightly lower than those of 2002, they continue to exceed levels prior to the 2001 terrorists attacks.

Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer has been studying the matter.

“Carrying a weapon is a matter of personal choice,” he said. “I’m most concerned about the illegal use of guns” or carrying without a permit, as well as the tie between guns and narcotics.

He compared gun use to automobile use.

“If you leave the keys in your car and the engine idling while you run into a store to pick-up something, then you’re being irresponsible with your car. Same with guns. We like to think that those who take the time to get permits have some sense of how to use guns safely. We give out free gun locks, and free advice on gun use, how to store guns at home.”

Especially if the person has children.

Boyer says he strongly urges gun owners to take a gun course if they’re insecure about how to handle a gun.

He did say he thought it odd that “You need training and a license to drive a car, but not to own or shoot a gun. The permit just allows you to carry it concealed.” The permit also stipulates the weapon must be concealed. One cannot carry a pistol in a holster on the hip, as in the Wild West. He said gun owners need to use common sense.

“I had one guy say to me he thought he had the right to shoot his neighbor’s dog if it came into his yard, or shoot someone climbing in through his window. I had to tell him, ‘Well, no, not exactly.’”

If the dog is attacking the gun owner or his family, then yes, it’s OK. Likewise with the person climbing through the window. “Make sure it’s not a family member who forgot his keys.” Use caution. Never shoot first and ask questions later.

Boyer has some concerns over suicides, even though there’s a waiting period to buy a gun. He also warned that there is no uniform code for permits, and Washington permits are not necessarily acceptable in other states.

Background checks are made and no permits are issued to convicted felons, he said.

Deputy Scott Wilson supplied the following county records of permit issuance. The statistics are not broken down by geographical areas. And records only go back to 1999, he said.

l In the eight months prior to Sept. 11, 2001, 544 new permits were issued. In the four months following, 748 were issued. This amounted to 1,115 for men and 177 for women.

l By 2002, totals had dropped to 818 new permits for men, but were up, to 203 new permits, for women.

l In 2003, new permits issued to men were down slightly to 806. For women, it was down to 148.

l Pre-Sept. 11 numbers were 570 new permits for men and 133 for women, in 2000.

l No figures were available for pre- and post-Sept. 11 numbers on permits renewed or replaced.

l Total permits held by Kitsap County residents, 2000-2003, were 1,222, 2,734, 2,684, and 2,257 respectively.

l When new permits are factored in, 1999-2003, the total number of persons allowed to carry a concealed weapon in Kitsap County climbs to 10,458.

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