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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Right to bear arms

Washington, Idaho allow concealed weapons – under certain conditions

Inland Northwest residents are applying for permits to carry concealed guns at between twice and three times the normal level.

Spokane County residents are waiting in lines up to three hours to turn in an application, and as of Monday there were 897 permit requests pending, according to records officials. The requests soared following a school shooting in Connecticut on Dec. 14 that sparked talk of potential gun controls.

Students learn to handle handguns during a gun safety class at Sharp Shooting Indoor Range and Gun Shop in Spokane on Monday. (SR Photo: Colin Mulvany)

“We always have a spike after mass shootings,” said Theresa Giannetto, Spokane Police Department records manager. Her department processes requests for concealed pistol licenses for Spokane County, and employees work 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the requests, she said.

According to the Washington Department of Licensing, which tracks the number of licenses by county, 1 in 15 Spokane County residents currently has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. That proportion is 1 in 10 in Stevens County and 1 in 25 in King County.

In Kootenai County it’s 1 in 20, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. Idaho’s permit also allows holders to carry other concealed weapons besides guns.

The number of people who hold a license to carry a concealed weapon is growing by the day in all those counties and nationwide.

Here’s some information about what it means to hold such a license:

Q.Is firearms training required to obtain a concealed pistol license or weapons permit?

A.In Washington, no. In Idaho, yes.

Jeremy Wilson, training director at Sharp Shooting, gives handling tips to Nancy Tate during a beginning gun safety class held Monday. (SR Photo: Colin Mulvany)

Q.How old do you have to be to get one?

A.In Washington, 21. In Idaho, 18.

Q.How long is a permit or license valid?

A.They are valid for five years in both states.

Q.Are there places where concealed weapons are not allowed even if a person has a permit?

A.In both Washington and Idaho, concealed weapons can’t be carried in a courthouse, juvenile detention facility, adult prison or jail, or public or private school.

Federal law may prohibit concealed weapons in places such as federal courthouses and airports.

In Washington, the law also includes liquor establishments such as bars, taverns and liquor stores.

Any private business in Washington or Idaho can prohibit weapons, but the restriction must be clearly posted. Guns are prohibited at Costco stores, for example. If a person is caught carrying a weapon in one of the retail chain’s warehouses, he or she can be asked to leave or face a misdemeanor charge of trespassing.

Q.Where can a person with a concealed license take a weapon?

A.A city library, city hall, a city council meeting, a park, aboard public transportation, and to any retail, commercial or entertainment establishment unless it’s posted otherwise.

Q.Is a background check required?

A.Yes, in both states.

Q.What are some of the reasons a person can be denied?

A.Federal law says someone convicted of domestic violence assault, either felony or misdemeanor, can be denied a concealed weapons permit. Likewise, anyone with a restraining order against them due to domestic violence; anyone who uses or is addicted to narcotics or other controlled substances; anyone who has been judged as mentally defective or committed to a mental institution; anyone who has been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces; anyone who is in the U.S. illegally; and anyone who is a fugitive. Certain felony convictions make offenders ineligible for the permit.

Q.How much does a permit cost?

A.In Idaho, it’s $20. In Washington, $52.50.

Q.How long does it take to obtain a concealed pistol license?

A.It can take 30 to 60 days in both states, and applications are available at county sheriff’s offices.

Q.Can a person carry a weapon without a concealed permit or license?

A.Washington and Idaho have open carry laws, which means people can carry a weapon as long as it’s visible.