Hall County weapons carry license permits
2016: More than 4,000
The number of applications filed in Hall County to legally carry a firearm in public has grown significantly over the last five years, with more than 4,000 made in 2016 alone, a record high.
By comparison, there were just 2,359 applications filed in 2012.
It’s a trend seen across the nation, in nearly every state, county and local jurisdiction.
According to a 2015 study by the Crime Prevention Research Center, about 13 million concealed handgun permits had been issued in the United States, covering 5.2 percent of the adult population.
“Whenever politics hits a note of restricting weapons rights, we’ll see a surge in applicants,” said Hall County Probate Court Judge Patty Walters Laine, whose office accepts and approves applications after conducting necessary background checks. “Last December and January were huge months (906 and 570 applications, respectively), but there were shootings, terrorist attacks and politicians talking about gun violence during that time.”
The debate over gun control has grown more controversial as mass shootings add up. And gun sales have ballooned as a result.
Research from Harvard and Northeastern universities reveals that the number of guns in the civilian population has increased 36 percent in the last 20 years to a total of more than 265 million weapons.
And manufacturers have tripled the number of guns they are producing and selling over the last quarter century.
So the number of carry permits has grown correspondingly.
Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed legislation last spring that would have legalized firearms at all public colleges in Georgia and allowed college students to carry concealed guns on campuses.
But local legislators said during the annual Eggs & Issues breakfast at the Gainesville Civic Center earlier this month that they expect the bill to emerge once more in 2017.
In Hall, this is the second straight year that a new record for applications has been set, according to Laine.
Laine said there have only been two months in 2016 that did not set a new record for number of applicants when comparing it to the same month in years past.
“Something people tell us when they are here is that they are afraid — afraid of terrorism, afraid of other people being so unpredictable, afraid because there is so much discord around the country,” Laine said.