An increasing number of West Virginians are obtaining concealed carry permits.
According to a Charleston Gazette-Mail report cited by the Associated Press, roughly 13,000 residents of West Virginia received a carry permit from Jan. 1 through the end of March. If this rate keeps up, it’ll be the highest number of permit requests since 2009.
Meanwhile, the number of people obtaining carry permits jumped from 11,160 in 2009 to 29,712 in 2012 before peaking at 44,981 in 2013. In 2014, over 32,000 permits were issued. These numbers include renewals, which must happen once every five years, and newly-awarded permits.
“It’s not surprising that concealed carry permit requests have increased in West Virginia,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “That’s in keeping with the national trend.”
Indeed, a recent study by the Crime Prevention Research Center states that the number of concealed carry permits nationwide increased from 4.6 million in 2007 to over 12.8 million this year. In addition, 1.7 million new permits were issued over the past year, which translates to a 15.4% increase in just one year, marking the largest-ever single-year increase in the number of concealed carry permits.
As the Charleston Gazette-Mail notes, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have allowed West Virginians to carry a concealed handgun without a permit, a practice otherwise known as “constitutional carry.”
Art Thomm, vice president and lobbyist for the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, says he believes constitutional carry will eventually become a reality in the Mountain State.
“It’s going to pass here,” he said. “West Virginia has a very, very strong gun culture.”
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