More and more people want to carry guns in Kansas.
The Kansas Office of the Attorney General announced Tuesday that it received 12,408 applications for concealed-carry permits in the fiscal year that ended June 30. That’s a 24 percent increase over the number of applications received in 2011.
The concealed-carry program started in 2006, after the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act was enacted. In 2007, when the first permits were issued, around 9,300 Kansans applied. The next year, there was a drop in the number of applications, to around 5,400. The years 2009 and 2010 stayed in the 7,000 range, but then 2011 exceeded 9,400 applications and 2012 spiked over 12,400.
“I think that people are more comfortable with the law that’s been in place for several years, and are applying through the process,” said Sedgwick County sheriff’s Sgt. Tracy Spreier.
The Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act allows people to carry concealed firearms once they receive a permit from the attorney general.
Sedgwick County also saw an increasing number of applications for concealed-carry permits in recent years. In 2010, for example, 1,636 county residents applied for the permit. In 2011, the number jumped to 2,106, while in the first six months of 2012 the Sheriff’s Office received 1,661 applications, according to Spreier.
“I think many people have saved their money to be able to do it,” said Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association. “I think that word has gotten out; people have become more educated about the necessity to take responsibility for their own personal security.”
In 2007, when the program was first adopted, people rushed to get concealed-carry training and permits, Stoneking said. Some people might have wanted to avoid the rush, so they allowed themselves a few years before they started pursuing the permit. Others might have just recently learned that the law exists.
A lot of it has to do with concerns about “the day and age we’re living in,” Stoneking said.
“We hear a lot of stuff that makes us have concerns about having to take care of ourselves in some kind of major national disaster.”
People who own permits and practice at shooting ranges also talk about being concerned that the government might limit their right to own firearms, said Scott Perry, a manager with the Gander Mountain Academy shooting range in Wichita.
“Another one is, people are just afraid,” Perry said. “They realize that the police can’t be everywhere and their personal safety is their responsibility.”
Although it stemmed from a state law, the concealed-carry program has generated local debates. In August 2011, Sedgwick County commissioners voted on a resolution to open all but 27 county sites to concealed carry. Previously, guns were prohibited inside any buildings owned by the city and county. Among the locations where guns continued to be prohibited are the Sedgwick County Courthouse, Intrust Bank Arena and Comcare, a community mental health facility.
Four months later, the Wichita City Council voted to allow people with permits to carry handguns in 111 city-owned sites, excluding, among others, City Hall.