Gun purchase permits and applications for concealed carry handgun permits are on the rise across the country and state, and Lincoln County and its neighboring counties are no exception after the Sheriff’s Office witnessed a nearly 35 percent increase in purchase permits alone from 2011 to 2012.
At least 140 county residents have already applied for gun permits in the first weeks of 2013, according to Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Larry Seagle.
Most people have been submitting their applications from home since the Sheriff’s Office recently established a new online application system, he said.
According to a Sheriff’s Office press release, 827 purchase permits were submitted in 2011 while 2012 saw more than 1,100 of the same applications, including 217 in December alone.
Less than half that number of applications were submitted in December 2011 with a total of 96, the release said.
With regard to concealed carry permits, the county agency has observed a similar surge over the last three years, increasing from 613 in 2010 to 831 in 2011 and 1,171 conceal permits last year. All Lincoln County concealed carry permit figures include renewal applications, Seagle said.
According to agency statistics, the Sheriff’s Office last witnessed an influx of this kind immediately following President Obama’s first elected term. From 2008 to 2009, Lincoln County concealed carry permits escalated nearly 90 percent, from 553 to 1,043.
Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter is not surprised by the significant increase in both types of gun permit applications in recent years.
He said citizens everywhere are concerned about the potential for stricter gun laws based on the “uncertainty of the President’s direction on gun control” and the federal government’s desire to upgrade public safety following a rise in mass shootings across the country, particularly the December school shooting at Sandy Brook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
“We will have more requests this year than in any years previous,” he said.
Carpenter told the Times-News he in no way believes residents are overreacting by going out and buying guns and seeking to carry them concealed.
“I don’t blame them for taking this type of action to make sure they feel safe in their surroundings,” he said.
“I am a strong advocate and supporter of our Second Amendment and encourage all law-abiding citizens to continue to seek their concealed carry permits and speak out against further gun control that Washington may try to force down our throats.”
Trends in neighboring counties are no different, according to Catawba County Lt. Lynn Baker, who told the Times-News on Monday that the Catawba County Sheriff’s Office has issued more than 400 purchase permits and 120 concealed carry permits this month alone. Unlike Lincoln County, Catawba County totals do not include concealed carry permit renewals.
Catawba County figures are up in comparison to totals from January 2011, which included 389 purchase permits and 104 concealed carry permits.
In addition, from 2011 to 2012, purchase permits in Catawba County nearly doubled from 2,923 to 4,311 while the agency said concealed carry permits also rose by more than 40 percent from 832 to 1,281.
Like Carpenter, Baker also noted how the community’s “panic buying” of guns and necessary permits is directly related to the country’s increase in school shootings and legislative talk on potential weapons’ bands.
The Times-News also acquired purchase permit and concealed carry permit totals from the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, whose totals also excluded renewal permits.
Again, the neighboring law enforcement agency reflected massive increases in both application types, including a 32 percent increase in purchase permits and 52 percent increase in concealed carry permits from 2011 to 2012.
According to Gaston County Chief Deputy Wade Leaphart, the statistics aren’t the first time his agency has seen such soaring numbers and won’t be the last time.
“Gun permits have gone off the board several times in the last eight years,” he said. “Anytime we have a tragedy, we see a rise in both purchase permits and concealed permits. People get nervous about having the ability to do things (obtain permits), and they try to get it done before there’s some kind of ban.”
To acquire a gun purchase permit in Lincoln County, individuals must submit a form found at lincolnsheriff.org either from home or anytime from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays at Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Lincolnton or the agency’s Charlie District Office in Denver. Applicants will receive updates on application statuses by email and may pick up approved permits at either agency location.