In just five years, we have seen the amount of concealed weapons permits issued in the state of West Virginia quadruple.

The West Virginia Press Association discovered the spike in concealed carry in a recent report from the West Virginia State Police:

In 2009, county sheriffs’ departments issued 11,160 permits allowing residents to carry concealed handguns in most public places. In 2013, that number had jumped to 44,981.

The largest increase was from 2012 to 2013, when the number of permits issued annually increased by more than 15,000, up from 29,712 in 2012.

Of course, these figures only reflect new permits. This means that the amount of people who are legally certified to carry in the West Virginia is even greater.

What could have sparked interest in concealed carry, causing this dramatic rise? The state police are not entirely sure, but say that it is possible the “high-profile violent incidents around the nation and heightened conflict over the politics of gun control” may have something to do with it.

The number of recorded gunshots has not changed much in the past five years.

Lt. Michael Baylous, spokesman for the West Virginia State Police, said:

“What you have to remember is these are law-abiding citizens going through the proper process. The criminals don’t go through the proper process to get a permit. “Do we encounter more people in traffic stops who have weapons? That might be fair to say. But nine times out of 10, they do the right thing and inform us they’re carrying.”

To obtain a concealed carry license, one must meet several requirements. The carrier must never have been convicted of a felony, a violent misdemeanor involving a lethal weapon, or have been charged with domestic abuse. The carrier must be mentally competent, at least 21 years old, go through a gun training course.

— Kara Jones