Okay, I’ll guess with you, but we’re probably both wrong.

While next weekend will see me attending the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Dallas (well, actually Irving), Texas, a live face-to-face event for the first time in three years, some of us are trying to figure out what the heck is going on in Washington State with concealed carry. This conference is notable for many things, such as bringing together some of the biggest names and brightest minds in the Second Amendment community, but it’s also one of my pet peeves. It cuts right into the middle of my early autumn upland bird hunting season.

But here’s a real head-scratcher I, and many of my Evergreen State colleagues are trying to figure out. August produced another phenomenal number of additional active concealed pistol licenses, and for the smallest western state, this is big news.

Back in early July, you read right here how June produced the second-highest number of CPLs issued in a single month, and the most ever in the month of June: 11,292, which were overshadowed only by the 13,932 issued in May 2013. Well, now June’s number has been eclipsed by the eye-popping 13,293 licenses added to the already burgeoning number of CPLs, bringing the total to a record 667,260 active licenses. That’s twice in a single year the number of licenses has climbed more than 10,000 in a single 30-day period, and it’s the first time in more than nine years this has occurred. It’s a new record for the month of August.

Between Jan. 2 and Aug. 31, Washington added a whopping 27,950 active licenses.

Let’s put this in perspective. Washington has been voting “blue” since Ronald Reagan was president, and voters there have adopted two extremist gun control initiatives — both of which may ultimately be ruled unconstitutional by federal courts in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen — since 2014, and the governor’s office has been occupied by Democrats since the mid-1980s.

Yet, better than one-in-10 qualified adults in the state are now licensed to carry a defensive sidearm, and roughly 20-25% are women, depending upon the county. Now is a good time to wonder why.

Cause And Effect?

The hub of anti-gun extremism in the Pacific Northwest is Seattle, where former Mayor Jenny Durkan — a liberal’s liberal — became infamous two years ago for suggesting the riotous summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd while being restrained by Minneapolis police officers, would be a “summer of love.”

It turned out to be an embarrassingly stupid prediction, followed by weeks of turmoil during which protesters took control of six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. There were at least two homicides, several assaults, a controversial video of a guy handing out semi-auto rifles from a car trunk to a couple of guys for “security,” and the temporary abandonment of a police precinct office.

“Defund the Police” was in the air, scores of police officers left the force, either by retirement or they found jobs elsewhere, and crime began to climb.

Nearby Tacoma, once dubbed the “city of destiny,” has also become a magnet for violent criminals, with shootings on a nearly daily basis. None of the perps is likely to have a CPL.

Maybe nightly news broadcasts revealing all of this trouble is compelling a lot of residents to arm up. Seattle’s body count has already surpassed the entire number of murders for all of 2021, and there are still three months remaining in the year.

Look Around

Citizens lining up for carry licenses is not confined to Washington. In the wake of the Bruen ruling, applications for licenses have gone predictably upward in New York, California and other states where “proper cause” requirements for concealed carry have been nullified as infringing upon the rights protected by the Second Amendment.

While anti-gun politicians are cooking up various ways to thwart the intent of the high court’s ruling on concealed carry, one undeniable fact has emerged: People want to be armed for personal protection.

And that brings us back around to Washington, which the gun prohibition lobby has been using as a political test tube for several years, trying different strategies to see what best fools voters. In this case, the adoption of stricter gun laws has been followed by rising crime and homicide rates.

Washington has had some form of licensed concealed carry since 1935. It’s a “shall-issue” state in which police agencies cannot deny someone a CPL so long as he/she passes the background check and has no outstanding warrants or other impediments, such as being a convicted felon or confined to a mental institution. There’s no arbitrary authority to deny someone a CPL just because a police official doesn’t like concealed carry. A New York bureaucrat might suffer a cardiac in Washington upon learning one-in-10 people he passes on the street might be legally packing a gat, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

Speaking of New York, officials there have come up with a new set of restrictions, centered on the “sensitive places” concept. Armed citizens are not allowed to carry firearms in sensitive places, such as the entire breadth of Times Square. Residences and businesses within those newly-designated sensitive areas, where gun possession was previously allowed, must now move their guns to different locations or face possible felony charges. New York is going to keep a lot of attorneys gainfully employed for a long, long time.

Back in Washington, it may be educational to see whether this new movement toward self-reliance has a political impact in November.

September CPL numbers for the state will be available in a few days. If this trend continues, the gun control crowd will be experiencing heartburn.

Is the .32 H&R Magnum Dead?

Now that I’ve mentioned the .32 H&R Magnum, I haven’t had much opportunity in recent years to do much shooting with one of my favorite handguns — a Ruger Single Six in .32 H&R Magnum with the short grip frame and Vaquero-type fixed sights — but that will change this fall and winter methinks, thanks to an abundance of cottontail rabbits in my region.

Overshadowed in recent years by the .327 Federal Magnum, the .32 H&R has impressed me since it was introduced in 1983 by Harrington & Richardson and Federal, with either a round butt and 3- or 4-inch barrels, or with a square butt and 4- or 6-inch barrels. The Model 504 had a swing-out cylinder and an adjustable rear sight.

There was a Model 532 with fixed sights and the cylinder had to be manually removed for reloading. Not terribly impressive, but some people bought them.

Back then, I was on staff at a now defunct weekly outdoors publication, and I jumped at the opportunity to try the gun and cartridge. I was more impressed with the cartridge than the handgun, which carried only five rounds and, well, it just wasn’t “my line of country” as the saying goes.

But then, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Charter, Dan Wesson and others introduced revolvers, and my world opened up. After all, none of those companies would have chambered handguns in that caliber if they didn’t think it had potential.

When I acquired my little sixgun some years ago, the first thing I did was order a set of dies and get some 100-grain JHPs from Speer, and later, some 85-grain pills Hornady. Sierra offers a 90-grain bullet as well, so options for handloaders are abundant. The rifling twist is 1:16-inch, right hand.

On a recent range visit, the Black Hills 90-grain lead flatpoint averaged 714.3 fps while the Black Hills 85-grain JHP averaged 960.6 fps. My 100-grain JHP handload powered by 10.0 grains of H110 scooted averaged 974.8 fps but hit a high of 1,010 fps and the same bullet ahead of 4.0 grains of AutoComp clocked at an impressive 931.9 fps.

I’ve loved this flat-shooting little cartridge ever since it first appeared, and so does my Ruger. For a gun with fixed sights, it does okay, especially since replacing the faux ivory factory grips with a Pachmayr to fill my hand and suck up any recoil.

I’ve settled on loads using HP-38 and Titegroup to propel the 85-grainers, and AutoComp or H110 to launch the 100-grain pills. A bullet traveling at 900-1,100 fps is going to put the hurt on small game, trust me.

On Life Support?

Since 2008, with the introduction of the .327 Federal Magnum, the .32 H&R has slipped into the shadows. That doesn’t mean it’s time to sound Taps, however. (And, yes, I’ve shot several guns in .327 Federal Magnum, and honestly, I kind of prefer the .32 H&R.

Others may disagree, but with available factory ammunition or quality handloads, the .32 H&R isn’t ready for the trash heap. Yes, it is out-classed by its younger and longer .327 sibling — both have their roots in the .32 S&W — but as a small game round, and maybe even for self-defense, the .32 H&R has spunk.

Having shot a fair number of bunnies and raccoons with guns in .22 LR, a bigger bullet would definitely have put them in the cooler.

The .32 H&R uses a .312-caliber bullet, and both the Hornady and Speer projectiles have delivered good results. I’ve got some Black Hills ammunition using 90-grain lead bullets or the 85-grain XTP pills and both are decent performers.

Perhaps the attraction of the .32 H&R is that it is different. I’ve got Speer and Sierra loading manuals that offer recommendations for such propellants as 2400, HS-6 and Unique, while Hodgdon’s Annual Manual has dozens of suggestions for bullets weighing from 77 to 100 grains.

For Defense?

Stop a moment and consider the .32 ACP is still considered to be an option for personal protection, and it launches a 70-grain bullet at under 1,000 fps.

The .32 H&R Magnum, as noted above, dishes out heavier bullets at greater velocities and as a wise old cop once observed, hit somebody at close range and you’re going to “ruin their day.”

While one can find concealment guns in this caliber with shorter barrels, I think the .32 H&R performs best with a slightly longer tube, say in the 4.5 to 5.5 or even 6.5 inch lengths. I looked around in earnest a few years ago for a Ruger Single-Six with adjustable sights in this caliber and a 6.5-inch barrel, but couldn’t find one. Maybe one of these days…

Subscribe To American Handgunner