State receives record number of applications for concealed-carry permits in January

The number of applications to carry a concealed weapon in Kansas in January was nearly double the previous one-month record.

The Kansas Attorney General’s Office reported Friday that it had received 3,167 applications last month. The previous high came in March 2012 when 1,651 applications were filed.

The increase matches what is being seen across the country in the wake of calls for stricter gun laws following the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

“There’s a public panic after something like that happens in Newtown and then reaction to it,” said Michael Birzer, a Wichita State University criminal justice professor and a member of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office for more than 20 years. “Through all the political campaigns, gun control has also been a topic.”

Last month’s total nearly triples the 1,128 applications received in January 2012. Kansas is also on target to set a record for permit applications for the third straight fiscal year.

Through the first six months of fiscal year 2013 – which started July 1, 2012 – the state has received 7,853 applications. That pace would bring the total to nearly 16,000 by the end of June 2013. The record was set in fiscal year 2012 with 12,408 applications, according to the attorney general’s records.

The state’s numbers have been climbing for a couple of years, but they’re spiking more over the last year. December saw 1,593 applications and 1,344 were filed in November.

January, however, went off the charts.

“People are basically voting about what they think,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau, who was instrumental in 2011 in getting the county to relax its rules so permit holders could carry their guns into more county-owned buildings.

Many states are seeing significant increases in gun purchases and applications for permits. Oklahoma issued 39,875 concealed-carry permits last year, the highest total ever recorded by the state.

While acknowledging the Newtown shootings and push for stricter gun laws has pushed the recent spike in Kansas, Ranzau said there’s been a “natural increase” in permit applications because many people only recently are learning about the state’s permit law.

There are currently 52,317 active permits in Kansas, which established the concealed-carry law in 2006. Kansas was one of the last states to adopt a concealed-carry statute, and now only Illinois remains without one.

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