Luzerne County Sheriff John Gilligan said he was surprised to find about 30 people waiting in line for gun permits Wednesday, and it made him wonder if concealed weapon permits are on the rise.
His finding: The office issued roughly 1,000 permits last year, or about 80 per month.
In comparison, a total of 225 permits were issued in January and February of this year, or closer to 110 per month.
“Lately there’s been an influx,” said Gilligan, who was appointed to the sheriff post last June.
Gilligan said he did not have access to the annual number of permits issued in previous years.
About 25,000 county residents now have permits to carry firearms in the county, Gilligan said.
In 1992, there were about 10,000 licenses, according to previously published reports.
Gilligan attributes the increased traffic in his office’s gun permit division to a sense of insecurity.
“People are scared,” Gilligan said. “Crime is on the rise. Shootings are on the rise. I believe people are scared.”
Joe Lasecki, owner of Nimrod Haven in Hanover Township, said he notices more people purchasing guns for protection, often first-time handgun buyers.
“The explanation is simple. Crime is up because the economy stinks. You can put a 5,000-word essay together, but that’s the long and short of it,” Lasecki said.
News reports of home invasions, robberies and muggings worry people, he said.
“They don’t want it to happen to them,” he said.
Lasecki, who encourages first-time gun buyers to take a safety course, said he has also noticed an increase in Mace and Taser gun sales at his shop.