SPOKANE, Wash.--Nationally, people have been applying for concealed pistol licenses at unprecedented rates. Experts say fear of changing gun legislation and some violent national events are likely factors.
INTERACTIVE: Washington map showing CPL figures by county
KREM 2 News looked into which Washington State counties are pursuing the right to carry. The Washington State Department of Licensing released the figures showing concealed pistol licenses at the request of KREM 2 News.
According to the figures, Lincoln County is where the most people per capita in Washington state hold concealed pistol licenses. Fifteen percent of the population holds a license.
Many people in the area were shocked to learn about these numbers. Some said it was less than what they expected. Even the Lincoln County Sheriff thought the numbers would be higher.
“Probably a larger percentage of people own a firearm of some sort. I would guess over 75 percent,” said Sheriff Wade Magers.
This is because you are not required to have a CPL unless you plan on carrying a concealed handgun, but CPLs are a good indication of gun ownership overall.
The county with the lowest number of CPLs in Washington State is King County. Only 4 percent of the population there has a CPL but even at that rate, the number has climbed over the last year.
Social Science Researcher at Washington State University, Mike Gaffney, said he was surprised by the wide variation in CPL rates in counties across Washington so he went looking for answers.
In general, Gaffney said there appears to be a correlation between population density and the percentage of concealed permits in the county.
The average percentage of permits is 8 percent. Sixteen counties in the state have rates above 8 percent. Gaffney said 13 of those 16 counties are relatively rural, low population dense counties.
Gaffney also expected that politics was a factor in these numbers.
“I thought that would be an easy explanation and it turned out not to be,” said Gaffney.
Many people might also think that crime has something to due with the CPL numbers but that doesn’t seem to have an affect on Washington State.
For example, Spokane has a higher property crime rate compared to many places in the state but Spokane has a relatively low concealed permit rate at 7 percent.
Lincoln County, the county with the highest number of CPLs, has a relatively low crime rate.
As it turns out, there are many variable behind CPL rates. Experts say even the most ideal study leaves some things unexplained.