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AGO 1983 No. 21 - October 13, 1983
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Ken Eikenberry | 1981-1992 | Attorney General of Washington

COUNTIES ‑- CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- COURTS ‑- FIREARMS ‑- WEAPONS ‑- INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE REQUIRED OF APPLICANT FOR CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMIT 

A county sheriff, municipal police chief or judge of a court of record may not refuse to issue a concealed weapons permit to an applicant, otherwise qualified, simply because of his or her refusal to be photographed, to produce a valid Washington driver's license, or to indicate his or her federal social security number, or solely on the ground that the applicant lives outside the particular county or municipality involved. 

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                October 13, 1983 

Honorable Kent Pullen
State Senator, 47th District
22844 ‑ 172nd Avenue S.E.
Kent, Washington 98031

Cite as:  AGO 1983 No. 21                                                                                                                

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you requested our opinion on several questions relating to the issuance of concealed weapons permits under RCW 9.41.070 as amended by § 3, chapter 232, Laws of 1983.  Specifically, you asked whether those officials involved in the issuance of a concealed weapons permit under the subject law may:

             (1) Require applicants for a concealed weapons permit to have their photograph taken;

             (2) Refuse to issue or renew a concealed weapons permit to state residents who live outside of the particular county or municipality involved;

             (3) Refuse to issue or renew a concealed weapons permit to ". . . persons who choose not to produce a driver's license but who otherwise meet the requirements of Section 3, Chapter 232, Laws of 1983 . . .";

             (4) Refuse to issue or renew a concealed weapons permit to persons ". . . who choose not to produce a social security number."

             We answer the foregoing questions in the negative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]                                                                          

                                                                     ANALYSIS

             At the outset, let us quickly respond to the second part of your request.  Even before the enactment of chapter 232, Laws of 1983, supra, it was the stated position of this office that a county sheriff (or other local official) could not refuse to issue a concealed weapons permit under RCW 9.41.070 solely on the ground that the person applying for such a permit is not a resident of the particular county or city involved.  See, AGLO 1973 No. 59, copy enclosed, where, after quoting the then-existing provisions of RCW 9.41.070, we said, at pages 2 and 3:

             "From the portions of this statute which we have underscored, it will readily be seen that the issuance of a license thereunder is mandatory except where the applicant is ineligible to own a pistol because of his prior conviction of a crime of violence, or where there exists a record of his drug addiction, habitual drunkenness, or confinement in a mental institution.  Nowhere within this or any other current statute do we find any basis for the denial of a license to carry a pistol solely on the ground that the applicant, although otherwise eligible to receive such a license, is not a resident of the county to the sheriff of which the application is made.  In fact, for the sheriff to deny issuance of such a license for this reason alone would be in direct conflict with the statute (RCW 9.41.070) as above quoted."

             And, most certainly, there is nothing contained in the 1983 amendment to the statute (as next quoted below) which would alter our thinking on that count.

             Your other three questions, on the other hand, do involve (and at least in part turn on) the above‑cited 1983 amendment.  Set forth in full, in bill form for ease of comprehension, that amendment (§ 3, chapter 232,supra) to RCW 9.41.070 reads as follows:

             "(1) The judge of a court of record, the chief of police of a municipality, or the sheriff of a county, shall within thirty days after the filing of an application of any person issue a license to such person to carry a pistol concealed on his person within this state for ((two)) four years from date of issue, for the purposes of protection or while engaged in business, sport or  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] while traveling.  However, if the applicant does not have a valid permanent Washington driver's license or Washington state identification card or has not been a resident of the state for the previous consecutive ninety days, the issuing authority shall have up to sixty days after the filing of the application to issue a license.  Such citizen's constitutional right to bear arms shall not be denied to him, unless he:

             "(a) Is ineligible to own a pistol under the provisions of RCW 9.41.040 ((as now or hereafter amended or there exists a record of his prior court conviction of a crime of violence or of drug addition [addiction] or of habitual drunkenness or of confinement to a mental institution:  PROVIDED, That such permit)); or

             "(b) Is under twenty-one years of age; or

             "(c) Is subject to a court order or injunction regarding firearms pursuant to RCW 10.99.040, 10.99.045, or 26.09.060; or

             "(d) Is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a crime of violence; or

             "(e) Has an outstanding warrant for his or her arrest from any court of competent jurisdiction for a felony or misdemeanor.

             "The license shall be revoked immediately upon conviction of a crime which makes such a person ineligible to own a pistol or upon the third conviction for a violation of this chapter within five calendar years.  The license shall be in triplicate, in form to be prescribed by the ((state director))department of licensing, and shall bear the name, address, and description, fingerprints and signature of the licensee ((and the reason given for desiring a license)), and the licensee's driver's license number or state identification card number if used for identification in applying for the license.  The original thereof shall be delivered to the licensee, the duplicate shall within seven days be sent by registered mail to the director of licensing and the triplicate shall be preserved for six years, by the authority issuing said license.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

(((1))) (2) The fee for the original issuance of a ((two-year))four-year license shall be ((five)) twenty dollars:  PROVIDED,That no other additional charges by any branch or unit of government shall be borne by the applicant for the issuance of the license:  PROVIDED FURTHER, That the fee shall be distributed as follows:

             "(a) ((Two))Four dollars shall be paid to the state general fund;

             "(b) ((One dollar fifty cents)) Four dollars shall be paid to the agency taking the fingerprints of the person licensed; and

             "(c) ((One dollar fifty cents)) Twelve dollars shall be paid to the issuing authority for the purpose of enforcing this chapter.

             "(((2)))(3) The fee for the renewal of such license shall be ((three))  twelve dollars:  PROVIDED,That no other additional charges by any branch or unit of government shall be borne by the applicant for the renewal of the license:  PROVIDED FURTHER, That the fee shall be distributed as follows:

             "(a) ((One))Four dollars shall be paid to the state general fund; and

             "(b) ((Two))Eight dollars shall be paid to the issuing authority for the purpose of enforcing this chapter.

             "(4) A licensee may renew a license if the licensee applies for renewal within ninety days before or after the expiration date of the license.  A license so renewed shall take effect on the expiration date of the prior license.  A licensee renewing after the expiration date of the license must pay a late renewal penalty of ten dollars in addition to the renewal fee specified in subsection (3) of this section.

             "(5) Notwithstanding the requirements of subsections (1) through (4) of this section, the chief of police of the municipality or the sheriff of the county of the applicant's residence may issue a temporary emergency license for good cause pending review under subsection (1) of this section.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 5]]

            "(6) A political subdivision of the state shall not modify the requirements of this section.  A civil suit may be brought to enjoin a wrongful refusal to issue a license.  The prevailing party is entitled to reasonable costs, including attorneys' fees."

             It will first be readily seen that the statute is, basically, still mandatory.  The permitshall be issued unless the applicant is ineligible for one or more of the several reasons now enumerated in subparagraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) of subsection (1).  At the same time, however, it will also be noted that the permit is not required to be issued immediately upon receipt of an application.  Instead, the issuing authority is allowed up to thirty days‑-or in the circumstances described in the new second sentence of subsection (1), up to sixty days‑-to process the application.  One obvious reason for that time period, we would think, is to afford the issuing agency a reasonable opportunity to conduct some form of investigation in order to determine whether or not the applicant is, for any of the listed reasons, ineligible for the permit.

             Moreover, in conducting such an investigation the issuing authority might very well deem itdesirable to have, at the outset, such things as a photograph of the applicant, access to his or her driver's license, or a statement indicating the applicant's federal social security number.  And, in turn, we would not think it unreasonable for the agency or official involved torequest the applicant to provide those items in conjunction with his or her application.  Indeed, that could quite possibly expedite the process for the benefit of the applicant as well.

             Nevertheless, when we focus on the question of whether or not alegal requirement to provide those items or information now exists in the law as it currently stands, we answer in the negative.  There is no such requirement in the law as it now reads.  Accordingly, a county sheriff, municipal police chief, or judge of a court of record maynot refuse to issue a concealed weapons permit to an applicant, otherwise qualified, simply because of his or her refusal to be photographed, to produce a valid Washington driver's license, or to indicate his or her federal social security number.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 6]]

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

 Very truly yours,
KENNETH O. EIKENBERRY
Attorney General

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