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January 7, 2013

Gun permit applications climb

Melody Kittle isn’t exactly what you’d call a “gun nut,” as some refer to weapons enthusiasts and vocal Second Amendment rights advocates.

Yet the Dalton resident was glad to apply for her concealed carry permit on Friday at the Whitfield County Probate Court office where she went through a background check, fingerprinting and paperwork to get the license that allows her to carry a concealed handgun in Georgia and 24 reciprocal states. Kittle said her husband talked with her about getting a license and they decided she needed one.

“He already has a permit and has had one for a long time,” she said.

While Kittle said she would have applied for her permit regardless of recent events, the decision to get a weapons carry license has, for many people, coincided with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in which a gunman killed 26 people, most of them children, then took his own life at an elementary school in Connecticut. The shootings have sparked numerous political debates with some people advocating arming more people, such as teachers, to protect against such rampages and others arguing for stricter gun laws.

Probate Court Judge Sheri Blevins said her office has been “overrun” with applications since the shootings. On a typical day, her office processes applications in the single digits. Since the Dec. 14 shootings, they’ve handled a daily average of 20.

Rocky Face resident Greg Williams said he’s held a concealed carry license since 2002.

“I’m glad that more people are exercising their right of personal defense,” he said. “I sincerely hope that they take it seriously, and are proactive about safety, and continue carrying their entire lives. The father in me is saddened that so many precious lives had to be lost at Sandy Hook for people to wake up. The libertarian in me is sad that so many people would give away their right so easily by supporting more legislation.”

President Barack Obama has pledged to pursue stricter gun laws. Some, like Dalton resident Kassandra Callaway, said more regulations are needed.

“I believe classes and a required test (should) be passed before anyone should be allowed to own or carry a weapon,” Callaway said. “What is our society becoming? Horrible tragedies happen such as (the) Sandy Hook shooting, Columbine, Aurora, Colo., and many others, and the media uses these to their advantage to spread fear ... and in turn ends up causing more crazy people to walk around with firearms ‘just in case of self-defense.’ If there were better regulations on gun owning and handling, we wouldn’t have to fear being in a situation of needing firearms for self-defense.”

Williams said that’s ludicrous and that,“If guns are criminalized, only criminals will have them. Criminals by definition ignore laws, therefore gun laws are moot.”

In Georgia, one must be at least 21 years old and not have been convicted of certain crimes to get a license. A complete list of items that disqualify someone from obtaining a license is available at www.whitfieldcountyga.com/pc/weapons.htm. The application fee for a permit is $72.25. It covers costs associated with fingerprinting, a criminal background check through the FBI and a statewide criminal database, a photograph for the permit card and other costs.

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Number of applications by month in 2012:

January: 113

February: 137

March: 90

April: 69

May: 75

June: 93

July: 95

August: 80

September: 60

October: 92

November: 111

December: 214

Source: Whitfield County Probate Court

Daily applications totals:

Dec. 3: 5

Dec. 4: 4

Dec. 6: 4

Dec. 7: 12

Dec. 10: 6

Dec. 11: 5

Dec. 13: 10

Dec. 14: 8

Dec. 17: 15

Dec. 18: 26

Dec. 20: 25

Dec. 21: 17

Dec. 26: 13

Dec. 27: 25

Dec. 28: 26

Dec. 31: 13

Jan. 3: 24

Source: Whitfield County Probate Court

Note: The office is closed on weekends and does not accept applications on Wednesdays due to budget constraints.

 

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