King County Sheriff John Urquhart made headlines Tuesday afternoon when he sent a note to his deputies, requesting that they carry their sidearms, with spare magazines, while off duty, as reported first by KING5 News, as a precaution against possible home grown terrorist actions.
Urquhart also discussed something else with Examiner. Over the past two days — Monday and Tuesday — he said concealed pistol license applications “have basically doubled.” According to the state Department of Licensing earlier this month, there are already more than 92,000 active CPLs just in King County, of which more than 18,000 are held by women.
Anti-gunners might argue this is merely a coincidence. But a lot of Americans saw what happened to unarmed Parisians Friday night, and they’re apparently having none of it. Whether King County is an isolated case remains to be seen.
Urquhart told Examiner via telephone that the Paris attack got everyone’s attention, and his biggest immediate concern is the “home-grown terrorist who decides to act unilaterally in support of ISIL.” That’s the same language he used in his note to the troops, and he backed that up.
“As they have in the past,” the sheriff noted in his message, which is also being covered by KIRO radio, “ISIL released a video on Saturday, urging attacks anywhere, saying there are ‘weapons and cars available and targets ready to be hit.’ I believe this is the biggest threat to our area.”
Urquhart told this column that the lone wolf types who may be inspired by ISIL are likely more of a danger, at least right now. That’s evidently what concerns European authorities, too. In his message, he said the FBI “continues to say they have no specific, credible information of any imminent attacks in this country.”
What about private citizens legally packing sidearms? One local Second Amendment activist suggested to this column via e-mail that, “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
“It would be presumptuous of me to say a citizen should or should not arm themselves,” the sheriff told Examiner matter-of-factly. “That’s a personal decision.”
Evidently, a lot of people are making that decision that hadn’t before last Friday night. Washington State is in the Top Ten when it comes to per capita concealed carry. More than a half-million Evergreen Staters are licensed to carry, and a small but active contingent of open carry advocates are also packing.
Urquhart stressed that armed private citizens should be well-trained, and that’s pretty good advice, say certified firearms instructors. It’s why some of the top “shooting schools” in the nation are located here in the Northwest, and why they are always busy. Thousands of responsible armed citizens have gone through various stages of training. There are pistol leagues, and “action pistol” competitions all over the map that contribute to being a well-trained shooter.
Concealed carry opponents will argue that armed citizens have little to no likelihood of ever intervening in a terrorist attack or mass shooting. An off-duty officer from a different jurisdiction — making him just an armed private citizen at the time — successfully intervened when a killer opened fire at the Trolley Square mall in February 2007. Two armed students, after retrieving their guns from their cars, intervened in the Appalachian Law School shooting.
One can never say for sure if an armed off-duty sheriff’s deputy or private citizen might ever make the difference. One can say with certainty, however, that if they’re not armed, they can’t make a difference. Which scenario do you prefer?
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