Concealed carry applications soaring across the country

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

Even as the number of permitless or constitutional carry states continues to grow, residents in states where concealed carry licenses are still required are showing up in record numbers to get their government-issued permission slip to bear arms in self-defense.

The trend is most visible in those states where concealed carry was off-limits to most residents until last year, when the Supreme Court struck down “may-issue” systems requiring applicants to demonstrate good cause or a justifiable need to carry a firearm for self-protection. Communities across California, for instance, are seeing a huge influx of applications despite the fact that some localities are charging more than $1,000 in fees and associated costs in order to obtain a permit to carry.

In the months following, officials at the Santa Maria Police Department say the number of applications submitted for concealed carry permits rose significantly.

“Typically, in an entire year, we would maybe have 20 applications. To where, this year, we are four months in, and we have already seen 26 applications,” said Sgt. Phil Dix, who oversees the department’s Concealed Carry Weapons Permit Program.

A spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says that as of February, 55 applications for concealed carry permits had been approved. That’s compared to just one approval the previous year.

“I am having larger classes than I used to, more classes than I did before along the coast, so it has definitely picked up,” said Danny Wells, owner and instructor at The Gun School in Santa Maria.

But this trend isn’t limited solely to states like California or Maryland, which has seen a ten-fold increase in the number of active concealed carry licenses since the “may-issue” system was scrapped last year. States where “shall-issue” concealed carry has long been established sheriffs are also seeing record numbers of applicants, including a massive turnout at an event hosted by the Allegheny County sheriff in western Pennsylvania last weekend.

According to Allegheny County Sheriff Kevin Kraus, the majority of people said they get the permit for self-defense. Butler County Sheriff Mike Slupe said everyone has the right to apply for concealed carry but recommends training.

Over the weekend, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office said more than 1,100 applied for concealed carry permits at the Jefferson Hills Borough building.

“Certainly, I can’t speak for any one person, but it appears it’s based on the mass shootings and the turmoil that’s going on,” Kraus said.

That’s a trend we’ve seen before. Slupe said they’ve seen an increase in Butler County. It’s up from the usual 30 to 40 people a day.

“Now with all the school shootings going on, there’s a renewed sense of protection that’s needed,” he said.

When you have new applications eventually, they must be renewed. Jeff Neiman did that Tuesday at the Allegheny County Courthouse. He got his initial permit for many of the same reasons people are now.

“Let’s leave it as self-defense. Government’s not protecting us. I’m going to do it,” Neiman said.

In Allegheny County, there was an influx of permit applications around the pandemic. It was around 21,000 in 2019 and 2020. Then it jumped to 28,000 in 2021 and down to 25,000 last year. This year is on pace to be about the same.

Even in Florida, where permitless carry is set to take effect on July 1st, concealed carry courses are busy and instructors say they’re seeing a growing number of women showing up in class.

Gun safety experts in Gainesville and neighboring communities say they have noticed a significant increase in the last four months in the number of women who wish to obtain a concealed weapons license.

Katelyn Perndoj is a 23-year-old bartender at Miller’s Ale House. She said she wants to make a living, but more importantly, she wants to stay safe.

“I’m pretty small, so if someone wanted to snatch me it wouldn’t be hard,” she said. “I could try and fight as much as I wanted to, but I just don’t want to be put in a situation where I don’t have a fighting chance.”

… “We want you shooting well enough that we can trust you with a handgun at anytime, anywhere,” said Henry Keys, a 24-year-old self-defense and firearms instructor at Harry Beckwith Guns & Range in Micanopy.

Keys said he considers women the fastest-growing demographic in the gun world.

“When I first started working at Harry Beckwith in early 2022, the courses I taught were 7% or 8% women,” he said. “Now, women make up well over 25%.”

He attributes this increase to a rise in crime and a general feeling of discontent with the economy.

Keys said roughly 75% of the women who register to take the course are 20-29 and African American or Asian. These women cite self-defense as their reason for wanting to own a gun, and the majority know little about firearms.

“They just feel that they are in danger,” he said. “It is important to me that I am able to help them.”

While anti-gunners are railing against the Second Amendment and demanding more restrictions on law-abiding citizens, those citizens are taking the necessary steps to protect themselves against violent criminals. Thankfully, millions of Americans now have the ability to do so after the “may-issue” laws that allowed local law enforcement to deprive them of their fundamental right to self-defense were wiped off the books, though we still have a lot of battles ahead in those blue states that have responded to Bruen with a host of new restrictions and prohibitions on lawful gun owners. Despite those barriers law-abiding gun owners continue to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms in self-defense in growing numbers, and I don’t expect that trend to stop anytime soon.