More Asking to Carry Concealed Weapons
Gun owners are packing heat in record numbers, fearful of stricter gun control under the Obama administration and higher crime in a sour economy.
Some states and counties report a surge in applications for concealed weapons permits since the November election. All states but Illinois and Wisconsin allow concealed weapons, but requirements differ.
Applications already have hit a record this year in Clay County, Mo., where the sheriff's office received 888 through June, compared with 863 in all of last year, Sheriff Bob Boydston says.
In the past, applicants tended to be middle-aged men, he says, but now include "grandmothers, older folks, young women, young men."
They tell him the bad economy will lead to more thefts and break-ins, he says, but his statistics show recession-related violent crime hasn't gone up.
They also fear gun control, he says. Last week, an elderly couple seeking a permit told him they were sure the president was "on the verge of coming to our homes and taking our weapons," he says.
Statewide, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has processed 18,878 background checks so far this year for the permits, the most since the agency began keeping statistics in 2005, Lt. John Hotz says.
In May, Obama signed a law that will allow guns in national parks. "The president respects and supports the Second Amendment and the tradition of gun ownership in this country," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt says.
Interest groups on both sides agree that demand is up because of economic and political uncertainty.
People worry the administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress will try to "enact more gun control," says Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the National Rifle Association.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, fears that violent confrontations will increase. "When someone's carrying a gun around and they're not fully trained, oftentimes they'll use it just because it's there," he says.
Demand is also up in:
Florida. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services hired 61 temporary workers to tackle a backlog in applications, spokesman Terence McElroy says. It got 75,520 applications through June, on pace to beat last year's record of 90,331.
Caldwell County, N.C. Residents filed 358 applications in the first half of this year, compared with 135 for the same period last year, "a bigger increase than we've ever seen," Sheriff's Detective B.J. Fore says. "People are worried about desperate times."
Utah. June ranked as the top month ever for applications, with 11,292 received, says Lt. Doug Anderson of the state Bureau of Criminal Identification. This year also is record-setting, he says, with 49,499 applications in through June.
Craig Ball, manager of Impact Guns in Ogden, has offered more training courses. "Last year, a typical class would be 15 to 20 people," he says. "Right after the election, we had as many as 55."