Police want Gov. Gary Locke to veto a measure requiring Washington to honor concealed pistol permits from other states, saying it would endanger police and create problems for prosecutors.
A spokesman for a gun-rights group backing the proposal asserted Wednesday that law enforcement concerns amount to a “gross overreaction” and are actually a new effort by gun-rights foes to kill the proposal.
The Locke administration in recent days has received letters from three different law enforcement officials opposing the bill. They are Bill Hanson, president of the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association, King County Sheriff David Reichert, and Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran.
Locke has until April 4 to act on the bill, HB1408.
Hanson said troopers don’t like the proposal because they would have no way of quickly learning if an out-of-state permit was valid. “Police officers do not have access to out-of-state concealed weapons permit records in a fashion that would allow this information to be put to use in a effective manner during roadside contacts,” he said.
“Troopers are concerned about the officer safety implication of this measure.”
Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, dismissed Hanson’s concerns as the work of anti-gun forces.
“Many states already have agreements with other states to recognize” concealed weapons permits. “Why don’t their police have a problem? Because it isn’t a problem. The police on a roadside stop can get this information online,” he said. Waldron also noted that another trooper, Capt. Marsh Pugh, testified in favor of the bill.
King County Sheriff Reichert echoed Hanson’s concern, and added that “this bill, if enacted, would weaken our state’s concealed pistol license by allowing convicted felons and mentally unstable people with concealed pistol licenses from other states to carry concealed handguns in our state.”
He said Montana, Delaware, Georgia and New Hampshire issue concealed pistol licenses without checking to see if the applicant is a felon or former mental patient.
Waldron’s group scoffs at that criticism, arguing that federal law solves the problem because it requires background checks on anybody buying a handgun.
Locke may have a tough time deciding whether to sign or veto the bill.
It is supported not only by Republicans, but by several rural Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Sid Snyder, D-Long Beach.