Armed but not dangerous

"As the owner of Boerner's Fire Arms in Gorst, Bill Boerner says he's legally packed protective heat with a concealed weapons permit over the last 20 years.After all, in his line of work, that's probably the prudent course of action. Boerner says he also owned and operated a towing company and ended up working late at night, so he decided to carry a handgun.That's not to say that Boerner, or anyone else with a gun permit and gun, seeks confrontation. On the contrary, he says, they usually avoid it.He says there are other reasons for applying for a concealed-weapons permit. I know from past experience that about 70 percent of those who have permits have them because they'd like to buy guns or collect guns on the fly, without the wait, he explained.In other words, anyone with a Washington concealed-weapons permit can travel across the state, scour a city for a particular antique handgun and buy it on the spot. That's because possessing a permit-which can be garnered from any local police agency-means officials already completed a state and FBI background check on the carrier, so a wait for security's sake isn't necessary.Boerner is also a collector.Guns are like old cars, Boerner said. They have a certain mystique to them, especially if you get into the workmanship of guns.Unlike Boerner's case, no one can say for sure why 14 residents sought and received concealed-weapon permits from the Port Orchard Police Department last year. A police clerk who oversees the application process at the department noted officers can't ask applicants, Why? because it's against the law.And officers can't say who, either.By state law, government protects the identity of those with concealed-weapons permits, anyway. Unlike business licenses, personal information found on gun remains private, state officials say.Besides, Boerner says many people tend to attach unfair stigmas to those with gun permits. Boerner knows one 54-year-old man with a gun permit who just likes to collect historical guns such as Colt revolvers, first made in the late 1800s.And there are others who are just into sport shooting or enjoy target-practicing at the range, Boerner said. Not everyone with gun permits are ex-military or dedicated hunters. And to say those who legally pack heat are aggressive just isn't fair, he says.Over the last 20 years, Boerner said, he's pulled his handgun only twice on someone, both times in self-defense.At one point, someone tried to rob his gun store, and Boerner kept the desperate thief at bay with his pistol until police arrived. Another time, Boerner went on a ridealong with PO Police officers at night and ended up forcing an advancing burglar to stop with his gun.Boerner says those with gun permits tend to be responsible. Maybe that's because of the waiting period invovled.The police clerk said that, on average, clearing a weapons permit application can take as many as 30 days. While the Port Orchard Police issued 14 permits last year, the police clerk couldn't say for sure how many outstanding permits exist in the city. She said the Police Department doesn't keep records on the matter, and state officials, for whatever reason, only organize permit documents by county.The clerk could say with certainty, though, that every Port Orchard officer and reserve officer also have concealed-weapons permits. By law, however, commissioned police officers aren't required to maintain permits."

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