The coronavirus pandemic has already helped cleared out grocery store shelves of everything from toilet paper to hand sanitizer, and now many gun stores around the country are reporting a surge in sales of firearms and ammunition as well. One gun store owner in Petaluma, California says his store has been packed over the last few days.
“I’ve sold 12 handguns in two hours,” said Gabriel Vaughn, owner of the Sportman’s Arms in Petaluma, laying the guns out on his store counter.
Purchases during the past week are five times normal, and ammunition too.
“Any time people are uneasy, sales go up, and it’s always the same, guns and ammo,” said Vaughn.
While more Americans may be buying firearms and ammunition out of fear and uncertainty, if they’re planning on also obtaining a concealed carry license they should be quick about it. At least one county sheriff in West Virginia is now putting all new concealed carry license applications on hold.
The Ohio County Sheriff’s Office is suspending the acceptance of concealed carry applications/renewals until April 10 out of an abundance of caution.
They are suspending all fingerprinting for job applications, security clearances, and personnel records.
It’s important to note that this is NOT a suspension of concealed carry licenses themselves, only the application process. According to a source within the sheriff’s department, the decision was made based on the physical layout of the office where the applications are received and the CDC and WV Department of Health guidelines for maintaining safe distances between potentially infected individuals and the sheriff’s department employees to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
West Virginia is a constitutional carry state, so even if you’re a resident of Ohio County and your concealed carry license expires before you can get it renewed, or if you want to carry but can’t apply for a license, you won’t be impacted. As long as you can legally possess your firearm, you can lawfully carry it.
The biggest impact will be on those wanting to travel outside of the state of West Virginia and carry in another state. If their license expires, or they don’t yet have their license, they’ll be unable to do so unless they have a concealed carry license that is recognized in the state they’re traveling to.
While the Ohio County, WV Sheriff’s Office is the first that I’m aware of to suspend the processing of concealed carry licenses, I suspect it won’t be the last, and if similar steps are taken by sheriff’s departments in states that do not have constitutional carry or open carry laws, we could obviously see a much bigger impact.
According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, there are more than 18-million 18-million concealed carry holders around the country, which means on average there are several million concealed carry licenses that come up for renewal each year. If the suspension of concealed carry applications and renewals becomes more commonplace, millions of Americans could see their licenses expire, and countless others will be left in limbo for their applications to be approved.
Again, if you’ve been thinking about applying for your concealed carry license, do not wait. I suspect these types of closures will become much more common in the next week or two, and it could be mid-April or even May before offices start accepting applications again.