The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office issued 1,155 handgun permits last month, reflecting a trend that likely began during the final months of 2012. The office processed a high number of concealed weapons permit applications, as well.
The surge in permit applications may be a reaction to the gun control debate simmering in Congress, according to Becky Smith, an administrative assistant in the sheriff’s office.
The December shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., caused many federal and state lawmakers to consider bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as stricter background checks and regulations of private sales. Four days before his second inauguration, President Obama announced a plan attempting to curb gun violence with four pieces of legislation and 23 executive orders related to gun control.
According to Smith, the office received a high number of handgun and concealed weapons permit applications in the months following Obama’s reelection.
“We first saw an increase when he was elected for the first time, and then we saw another increase the second time,” she said. “People were afraid he was going to ban certain types of weapons.”
The sheriff’s office issued 3,247 handgun permits in 2012, compared to 2,644 in 2011. Concealed weapons permits jumped from 779 to 917 in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Ammunition sales have also risen. According to Jerry, a sales associate at the Burlington Wal-Mart who declined to reveal his last name, the store is having difficulty supplying enough ammunition to meet customer demand.
“Our warehouse can’t keep enough in stock,” he said. “We only get three boxes of ammunition at a time now, and we used to get as many as we wanted.”
Jerry said there has been a significant uptick in rifle sales, too.
“We can’t keep them on the shelves,” he said.
The trend may be statewide. Kevin Sutherd, an administrative assistant in the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, said the office processed a significantly higher number of handgun and concealed carry permits in 2012 than in 2011.
“The increase really started around December,” he said, though he is unsure of the number of permits the county issued in January 2013.