By Pat Jenkins
The Dispatch
Eatonville residents who want to carry handguns are taking advantage of a close-to-home method of getting permission.
The town's Police Department recorded 162 license transactions involving concealed handguns in the first 24 months it handled pistol permits.
For the 12 months of December 2015 through November 2016, 84 concealed pistol licenses (CPL) or pistol ownership transfers were issued. That’s an increase from the previous 12-month period of December 2014-December 2015, when the total was 78.
Another 13 license authorizations were granted in the last two months – eight in January and five in December.
A running, month-to-month tally of licenses issued by the Eatonville Police is reported at Town Council meetings as part of the regular police activity summaries.
At the request of Mayor Mike Schaub, the Police Department started a CPL program in December 2014. It's available only to people who live inside Eatonville.
People living outside of town must apply for concealed-handgun licenses through the Pierce County Sheriff Department and South Sound 9-1-1 (formerly Law Enforcement Support Agency), which processes applications in Tacoma. That's also where anyone from Pierce County address can apply, including residents of Eatonville and the other 11 incorporated cities and towns in the county.
About half of the municipalities give their residents the more convenient option of applying for pistol licenses at the respective town or city halls. Eatonville is among the seven that do. The others are Puyallup, Orting, Bonney Lake, Fife, Gig Harbor and Sumner.
The cities of Roy, Tacoma, Edgewood, Lakewood and University Place send their residents to South Sound 9-1-1 for the licensing process.
Under state laws, that process is the same for everyone, regardless where applications are filed. Here's how it works:
• Applicants are fingerprinted by authorities who then conduct a background check through federal and state databases. Approval or denial of a license is required within 30 days of an application being filed. The waiting period for a yea or nay is longer – up to 60 days – if an applicant doesn't have a valid Washington driver license or other state identification card.
• No one gets a license if a previous license was revoked, if they're younger than 21, or if they're in trouble with the law. The latter includes having a court order or injunction against them involving firearms, if they're free on bond or personal recognizance while awaiting a trial or sentencing for a felony, if there's an outstanding warrant for their arrest for a felony or misdemeanor, or if they were ordered to forfeit a firearm within one year before filing an application to carry a concealed pistol.
• Licenses are for five years from the date they’re issued.
• The license fees are $48 for a first-time license, $32 for a renewal, $42 for renewing late, and $10 for replacing a lost license. Part of the money ($14) for first-time applications and renewals goes to agencies that issue the licenses, such as Eatonville's Police Department. The rest goes into state funds.
State law notes that CPLs are for the licenseholder's "purposes of protection." Other than people who don't meet all the licensing qualifications and legal tests, the "constitutional right to bear arms shall not be denied" for anyone who wants to carry a concealed handgun, the law mandates.