Training required for concealed gun owners under proposed bill in Washington

Gun control debate

Pastor David George still distinctly remembers the day on June 17, 2018, when a gunman went on a rampage at the Tumwater Wal-Mart.

The gunman, 44-year old Tim Day, had already created drama throughout the day when he tried to steal a car at a nearby gas station, and then attempted to carjack two more vehicles until he ended up at the Wal-Mart.

Once inside, he opened fire on a display case and stole ammunition. George was inside the store with his family and remembers hearing the shots.

“My daughter got out quickly, but my wife — I didn’t see her, and I thought she was in the store,” remembered George. “So, I stayed in the store.”

That’s when he came face to face with the gunman and he was trying to leave.

“He (Day) came around the corner. He was waving the gun. We locked eyes and he didn’t like that pointing his gun at me and I dove behind the register,” George said.

As Day made his way outside, he attempted to carjack another vehicle and ended up shooting the driver. George, a longtime concealed pistol license holder with years of active shooter training, didn’t hesitate, shooting and killing Day, stopping the rampage.

“Seeing he made the decision to shoot at somebody determined to me that he is indeed a deadly threat,” said George, who credits his training for being able to react quickly.

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But despite doing the right thing, and potentially saving lives, George called the shooting traumatic, and he even sought out counseling.

“That night was sleepless,” said George. “I still get choked up thinking about having my family so close to that kind of danger, the idea that you have to make a choice to take somebody’s life and the fact he had almost taken somebody else’s life.”

But George, who is a pastor at Oakville Assembly of God, has no regrets. He calmly recites Proverbs 24 that reads, “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”

“It confirmed a lot of things that I believe and convictions that I held. I carry it (firearm) for the same reason I carry a medical bag,” said George, who is also a certified EMT. “You really hope you never have to use this, but if it comes necessary you are going to be really glad it is there.”

The incident in Tumwater appears to be a part of a growing trend of armed citizens with concealed weapons stepping up as good Samaritans.

Recently in November, Scott Brown, a CPL holder, used his firearm to keep a suspect, who had just stabbed his girlfriend in public at Seattle Center, from getting away. And in December, a group of CPL holders in Marysville shot out the tires of the getaway car of a pair of thieves. The shoplifters were eventually arrested by police.

In Washington state, the number CPL holders has increased 55 percent in the past six years. In January 2013, 396,102 concealed pistol licenses were issued, compared to 612,919 in January 2019.

At West Coast Armory North, owner and longtime firearms instructor John Holschen teaches CPL holders about their rights and responsibility of carrying a firearm in public.

“It has a very narrow purpose, its purpose is to save life,” Holschen said. “It is used to protect you or somebody in your immediate vicinity from imminent deadly danger and only deadly danger.”

Holschen said CPL holders should also know how to handle their firearm, understand the law when it comes to self-defense and they should think about their own moral compass.

“If you don’t think someone should be executed for shoplifting, executed for stealing your vehicle and I hope you don’t,” Holschen said. “Should someone die for punching someone in the nose? Then why would you ever consider pointing a gun at people in those circumstances, why would you consider using deadly force in those circumstances.”

Robert Silber of Washington Cease Fire worries about the increase of CPL holders in the state. He said he doesn’t condemn good Samaritans, but believes they need proper training.

“What kind of training do people in Washington have to through now? Zero, nothing for a concealed weapon,” Silber said.

Currently, lawmakers in Olympia are considering Senate Bill 5174. It would require concealed pistol license holders to complete “a recognized firearms safety training course.”

The bill is sponsored by Senator Guy Palumbo-D of Maltby, who says he is currently a CPL holder.

“There are 27 states and the District of Columbia where you have to go through some kind of training whether it is four hours or 20 hours,” Silber said.

Holschen admits having a law requiring CPL holders to take a certified class would be a huge boon to business, but he strongly believes our 2nd Amendment rights are more important than money.

“To have the ability to protect yourself is innate right,” Holschen said. “And I don’t think people should have to jump through legal hoops. I don’t think there should be a barrier for people who need the right to defend themselves.”

Holschen believes most people who make the decision to carry a gun in public are responsible and take the decision seriously.

George is one of those gun owners.

“I am not carrying this because I want to use it or look forward to using, I carry because I may have to use it,” George said. “And I hope most people never have to go through this, that’s the thing you don’t want to think about the worst night that you remember. This is the worst-case scenario.”

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