Recent crimes spark interest in gun permits

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 29, 2011

By Karissa Minn
Recent violent crimes, both local and across the country, have raised interest in gun ownership and questions about the laws that govern it.
Jared Loughner, the man arrested in connection with a Tucson, Ariz., shooting that killed six people and wounded 14, purchased a handgun legally after an FBI background check. Under Arizona law, he was not required to have a permit to purchase or carry a concealed weapon.
Kathy Barringer, who works with the Rowan County Sheriffís Office in Landis, said laws about purchasing and carrying a handgun should be moderately strict, and North Carolinaís are stricter than Arizona.
ěWe do a pretty good job of checking,î she said.
The process is more involved for conceal and carry permits than for purchase permits. In both cases, applicants are denied if they are convicted felons, are known drug addicts, were dishonorably charged from the military, or have been declared mentally incompetent or insane.
ěSometimes I feel, when Iím reading a report, like that person shouldnít have a gun,î she said. ěBut if they havenít been involuntarily committed, we cannot deny them.î
Rowan County residents who want to buy a handgun must fill out a purchase permit application at either the sheriffís office in Salisbury or Landis. Purchasers must present a valid driverís license with a correct address and undergo a criminal background check.
Buyers can apply for up to five permits per application for $5 in cash each. One application will be accepted every 30 days.
The permitting process to conceal and carry a handgun is more thorough. It includes checks of a personís mental health as well as criminal background and court records.
ěFor a purchase permit, someone can go in with a DWI, or an assault charge as long as itís not domestic,î Barringer said. She said a concealed carry permit will be denied to anyone with a DWI conviction within the past three years or any assault conviction in the personís lifetime.
Local residents wanting a conceal and carry permit must first complete an approved Firearms Safety and Training Course. They should then make an appointment with the sheriffís office in Landis to complete the application process.
Applicants will need to present an original certificate from the firearms course and a valid driverís license with the correct address. They will be photographed and fingerprinted. Former military members also will need to show a copy of their DD-214.
The permit costs $92, payable in cash or check. Permits are good for five years. Renewals cost $77 and need to be applied for 60 to 90 days prior to permit expiration.
There is little to no delay between applying for a purchase permit and receiving one, but Barringer said the conceal and carry permit process can take about six weeks.
Barringer said several years ago, the people applying for permits to purchase or carry handguns were mostly men between the ages of 35 and 55. Now their ages run as low as 21 and as high as 94, and many of them are women.
ěThe number of women coming in has been unreal,î Barringer said. ěThis week, we got numerous calls from women wanting to know about it after what happened at Wendyís last week.î
On the afternoon of Jan. 18, a woman was sitting in her vehicle at the East Innes Street Wendyís drive-thru when someone threatened to shoot her, punched her in the face and stole her purse.
Barringer said she doesnít know why interest in carrying handguns has broadened, but personal safety and protection are concerns she hears a lot. Many, like Barringer herself, want to have one when they travel.
ěGoing back and forth to the beach, we stop at a truck stop on 95, and I make sure Iíve got my gun with me,î she said.
Demand for conceal and carry permits increased three or four years ago and has held steady since then, Barringer said.
ěWe went from maybe 50 a month five years ago to an average of at least 100 a month now,î she said. ěIf we didnít work by appointments, the lobby would be packed.î
In 2010, there were 2,815 purchase permits granted and 236 denied. The same year, 1,147 conceal and carry permits were granted (both new and renewed) and 20 were denied.
Call 704-216-8700 for more information or 704-216-8767 to make an appointment for a conceal and carry application.