CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — More than 13,000 permits to carry concealed guns were issued in West Virginia during the first three months of 2015, West Virginia State Police data show.
If this pace continues, the state could end the year with the highest number of permits issued since 2009, when state police began maintaining records, the Charleston Gazette-Mail (http://bit.ly/1eLxgGv) reported.
The number of people obtaining permits increased from 11,160 in 2009 to 29,712 in 2012, and then peaked at 44,981 in 2013. More than 32,000 permits were issued in 2014.
The totals include new permits and permit renewals, but not those that were surrendered or revoked. State law requires concealed carry permits to be renewed every five years.
“It’s not surprising that concealed carry permit requests have increased in West Virginia,” Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, told the newspaper. “That’s in keeping with the national trend.”
In 2014, the percentage of gun permit holders ranged from 12.8 percent in Wyoming County to 4.5 percent in Monongalia County, state police data show.
State police do not maintain a record of permit rejections across the state.
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department told the newspaper that it has rejected 208 permit requests and revoked 84 permits since 2009.
Raleigh County reported 45 rejections since July 2008. The Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department has denied 18 people and revoked seven permits since 2009. Putnam County has had 21 rejections since 2012. Wayne County officials estimated having between 19 and 21 rejections since 2014. Wood County has had three rejections this year, the newspaper said.
The top three reasons for permit rejections are domestic battery or a misdemeanor assault conviction, felony arrests and mental-hygiene commitments, said Sgt. Brian Humphreys, a spokesman for the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have allowed West Virginians to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Tomblin cited overwhelming opposition of law enforcement.
Art Thomm, vice president and lobbyist for the West Virginia Citizens Defense League, said West Virginia has a strong gun culture and that the proposal will pass eventually.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.