Kansas’ huge increase in applications for concealed-carry gun permits in 2013 will surge significantly again if talk from Washington about restrictions resumes, a state gun advocate said Monday.
Kansans applied for a record number of permits last year, exceeding the previous mark set in 2012 by more than 50 percent, the office of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a news release.
More than 14,250 of those 24,181 applications were made in the first four months of 2013. The uptick was driven by a push to tighten gun laws at the federal level and the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., observers have said.
Applications in Kansas tailed off after the year’s first quarter, averaging a little more than 1,100 for each of the last six months in 2013, according to the attorney general’s website.
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“If we start seeing another big push out of Washington on gun control and registration,” said Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas Rifle Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, “that would get the people going again.”
Kansas set monthly records for the number of permit applications for three of the first four months of 2013, including the high mark of 4,065 in March. Stoneking said that was largely driven by Newtown and President Obama calling for tougher gun restrictions.
“People felt like that was kind of a deal breaker,” she said. “They felt they needed to defend themselves.”
Stoneking said she was getting death threats and hate mail at the time.
“It’s interesting that the people who say we don’t need guns are the ones who sent me death threats,” Stoneking said.
The applications tapered off because “we started seeing things calming down,” she added.
“I see things staying steady as long as the political climate stays steady.”
Kansas, which established its permit law in 2006, has seen a record number of applications for four straight years. But 2013 saw a 54 percent increase, with 8,474 more applications filed than the 15,707 Schmidt’s office received in 2012.
As of Thursday, there were 75,099 active permits in the state, according to Schmidt’s office.
His office received 4,445 applications from Sedgwick County residents in 2013; there were 2,680 in 2012. The county has 14,826 active permits.
In 2013, the attorney general’s office suspended 86 permits, according to a state-mandated annual report. Thirteen of those licenses were reinstated after criminal charges were either dismissed or reduced to nondisqualifying misdemeanor offenses, the report said.
The state saw 52 suspensions in 2012, and 11 of those permits were reinstated.
Also in 2013, 29 licenses were revoked for a variety of reasons, including at least 10 for felony convictions. Two of those were reinstated after the permit holders were cleared of disqualifying reasons, the report said.
In 2012, 32 licenses were revoked; three of those were later reinstated.
The jump in applications created a backlog in getting the requests processed, but Schmidt’s office increased its staff from five to 11 people to handle the applications.
Schmidt said applications are currently being handled in an average of 30 days. State law requires that they be processed within 90 days.