According to the Seattle Times, “the number of Washington state residents receiving a concealed-carry permit tripled between 2005 and 2012. The surge has been especially large among women, whose ranks have swelled twice as fast as men since 2011. Overall, more than 451,000 residents now have a permit.”
One woman who has been a part of this increase is Katie Oittinen, a 29-year-old mother, living in Granite Falls, Washington. She chose to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun after she called the police regarding an intruder in her home – and they never showed up. In reference to the event, Oittinen said, “That was a wake-up call. It’s things like that that make you wonder: ‘Who can you really rely on to protect you and your family?’ Pretty much yourself.”
Washington is one of the 40 “shall-issue” states, in which law-enforcement agencies must issue the state’s “concealed-pistol license” if minimum requirements are met. Examples of these requirements do not require any firearms training, but they do require that the applicant must be at least 21, and that they must undergo a criminal check and fingerprinting. While the number of residents in Washington receiving concealed-carry permits has grown to around 451,000, this trend is also being emulated all over the United States.
Why the major increase? In addition to finding that the rate of women getting concealed-carry permits was growing twice as fast as that of men, an analysis done by the Seattle Times, also found that one common concern which emerged from the majority of the women was the importance of self-defense.
The executive director of the Washington Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Association, Mitch Barker tied the increase in people obtaining concealed-carry permits to tragedies such as the mass killing of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut. He concluded that these events have motivated people to search for a way to protect themselves. “They think that if they have a CPL and they have a firearm – maybe they can do something,” said Barker.
“I carry because I feel I am responsible for my own safety,” said Anette Wachter, who is a member of the U.S. National Rifle Team. She went on to say, “The women I know who are getting their CPLs are women excited about shooting recreationally and the self-defense side comes second, as an added bonus. Women are realizing they can do more to protect themselves. It’s a fun, interesting, daring and empowering thing to do – knowing you may be able to protect yourself gives you a bit more confidence that you don’t have to be a victim.”