Saturday, May 18th, 2013
By Amy Kronenberger
Conceal and carry permits up
  Requests for conceal and carry permits are escalating in the area and statewide. Local officials ascribed the surge to a perceived threat against citizens' gun rights.
The number of licenses issued in the first quarter of 2013 in Mercer and Auglaize counties is more than double those issued in the coinciding time period of 2012. And, more licenses were issued during this year's first quarter than in most years since 2004, according to statistics recently released by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey issued 216 licenses during January, February and March, up from 80 in the fist quarter of 2012, 34 in 2011 and 37 in 2010. The first quarter of this year had more issuances than all of 2011 (124), 2010 (163) and 2009 (169).
In 2005 through 2008, the total number of issuances for the year was less than 100 in Mercer County. The only years to top the recent first quarter are 2012 (349) and 2004 (235), the year when concealed carry legislation became law.
Auglaize County's statistics mirror Mercer's, with 240 new licenses issued in the fist quarter of 2013, a jump from 92 in 2012, 58 in 2011 and 72 in 2010. The first quarter topped the entire year of 2011 (220), 2004 (180) and every year from 2005-2008, during which each year had less than 100. Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon issued 268 licenses in 2010 and 461 in 2009.
Grey attributes the spike to recent talks in the federal government about restricting gun rights. He also sees an increase after major crimes happen in the area.
Following the murders of Robert and Colleen Grube in November 2011, issuances in the first quarter of 2012 increased tremendously from the same quarter of the previous year - 34 to 83 in Mercer County and 58 to 92 in Auglaize County.
The incident may have spurred an increase, but the rate hasn't dropped.
"We're spending a lot of extra time on permits this year, and the only legitimate explanation is the attack on people's rights," Grey said. "I'll be interested to see what happens the rest of the year to see if it drops off."
State statistics support Grey's claims. According to a report from DeWine's office, Ohio sheriffs issued 31,407 licenses during the first quarter this year, up from 16,823 during the same period in 2012. A total of 64,650 licenses were issued in 2012.
First quarter issuances in Ohio were more than in all of 2005 (22,487), 2006 (18,781) or 2007 (22,103).
Grey also pointed out that ammunition sales have increased so much that shortages are occurring.
"Gun ammunition sales are going up, when you can get ammo," he said. "We're fortunate that we stocked up the last few years."
To receive a concealed carry weapon (CCW) license, gun owners must complete a handgun safety training course that includes 10 hours in the classroom and two hours at the shooting range.
Steve Farmer, certified instructor at Lima Sabres in Lima, offers classes on the third Saturday of every month.
Farmer teaches appropriate bullet and holster selection, marksmanship, law, shoot/don't shoot scenarios and safety. Students must use 100 rounds at the range and must hit a 9-inch diameter target eight out of 10 times from distances of seven, 14 and 21 feet.
The student must also receive at least an 80 percent on a written exam. After receiving a certificate of completion from the instructor, the student can bring the certificate to the sheriff to apply for a CCW license.
Farmer wasn't surprised by the increase in license requests. He said the threat of new regulations and local crime always influence the numbers. Those fearing new regulations hope getting licensed now will "grandfather" them into any changes, and they feel a stronger need to defend themselves.
"When it happens in your own backyard, so close to home, people decide to protect themselves," he said.
Farmer said many who take his class choose not to apply for the license.
"People may take the class and decide they don't want the huge responsibility of having a CCW license," he said. "But they're happy to have the training."
Mike Bailey, an instructor at Big Bucks Firearms near Carthagena, said about 25 percent of those who take his class also offered on the third Saturday of each month never apply for the license. They only want the safety training for guns kept at home.
Those who apply for the license do so to be able to protect themselves outside the home, whether carried on their person or in a vehicle.
"Imagine coming out of a mall late at night and you see a group of thugs coming towards you," Bailey said. "It can give you a sense of security knowing if you had to, you could defend yourself and not be just another victim."
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