Gun permits up in NRV
Record numbers of New River Valley residents are seeking permission to carry concealed guns, a trend that echoes others across the country.
“Every Friday I’m spending several hours signing gun permits,” Montgomery County Circuit Court Clerk Erica Williams said last week.
Williams’ office approved its highest monthly total of concealed carry permits in December with 130, then more than doubled it with 272 in January.
This month began with 33 concealed carry permits in the first three days, Williams said.
Other New River Valley localities report similar increases as news reports across the nation show spikes in gun sales after a series of high-profile mass shootings, especially the Dec. 19 slaying of 20 school children and eight adults in Newtown, Conn. The Associated Press reported shortages of guns and ammunition across the country. Reuters reported that Federal Bureau of Investigation figures showed record numbers of requests for background checks of would-be purchasers.
“Everybody just feels you never know what may happen at any given time. People want to protect themselves, defend themselves,” said Allen Sisler, a manager at Atlas Tactical, a gun store in Newport. The Giles County store has seen a jump in sales that mirrors the leap in concealed carry permits, Sisler said.
“I’ve had quite a few people come in, especially older couples … purchase their first handgun,” he said.
Older customers are also driving a jump in firearms purchases at Danny’s Pawn Shop in Christiansburg, owner Dan Olinger said.
“Older ladies … talking about getting their permits and such,” Olinger said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Both Sisler and Olinger said that from what they could tell, worries about self defense were driving sales more than concern about possible new federal firearm restrictions that have been discussed since the Newtown killings.
Williams said the surge in concealed carry permit applications has been so great that one of her nine deputy clerks is now assigned full-time to processing them.
The recent jump exceeds the increase in concealed carry permit requests after the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, Williams said.
In Radford, Becky Price, a deputy circuit court clerk, said her office has seen “an explosion” of concealed carry permit requests, and other clerk’s offices reported higher numbers as well.
Wendell Peters, circuit court clerk for Floyd County, declined to say how many concealed carry permits his office processed, calling it “not a big deal.”
Still, “We’ve got about two and half times” as many permits in recent months as before that, he said.
Peters said he would not speculate about possible causes for the jump except to say that there was an increase after President Obama’s 2008 election.
After his re-election in November, the increase was “much higher,” Peters said.
Pulaski County Deputy Clerk Alice Dobbins said that while she did not have figures from 2008 and 2009 immediately available, she recalled similar increases.
“After the [presidential] election, we’ve had a big jump,” Dobbins said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1669
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