Gun permits on the rise in Surry County

First Posted: 12/28/2008

DOBSON The Surry County Sheriffs Office has been swamped with applications for concealed carry and gun purchase permits since the election in November.
To date, the sheriffs office has receive a total of 1,286 purchase permits in 2008. Last year, the office processed 1,131 for the entire year. Last December, it received 21 requests for the entire month. This month, the office has already received 39 with three days left in the month.
Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson said the sheriffs office has received more requests for gun permits for the whole year from about five to six weeks ago. He said both concealed carry and purchase permits have exceeded last years requests.
It may be that people are afraid that theres going to be restrictions put on the kind of firearms you can buy with the new administration coming into Washington. We have seen a big increase since the election in November. A lot of it probably has to do with the failing economy and people are just worried in general about being broken into or having their property stolen. Theres also a big rumor that there may be a big tax attached to ammunition and maybe to firearms as well, Atkinson said.
He explained the process for obtaining a purchase permit.
If you want a purchase permit, you come in, bring your drivers license and fill out the questionnaire that goes along with it. Then we have to do a background check and verify all of your information and that usually takes three to five days. Then you come back in with $5 and pick up your permit if everything checks out.
On a concealed carry permit, Atkinson said, it is a much more involved process.
You have to fill out a much more extensive application, then you have to go to one of these guys who do the private contracting who teach the concealed carry course. They give you a certificate at the end of the course and you bring that back here with the application. We send it to the SBI. It takes them about 90 days, because they are backlogged right now. They send us the permit back. I sign it, and we call and have you come and pick it up.
He said there about six or seven places in the county where classes are taught.
Atkinson said that once a person has obtained a gun permit from the sheriffs office, he or she can go purchase a gun the same day.
Mark Stanley, owner of Marks Guns and Ammo, said he has heard concerns about Obama banning guns and increasing the price of ammunition, his store is busy right now mainly because it is hunting season.
Theres probably been a little bit of concern for that. Its handgun season beginning right now from now until about June. Probably with the election, it probably has stimulated a little bit more activity, Stanley said.
Merlin Scales, owner of Rabbit Ridge Enterprises, is licensed to sell guns in both North Carolina and Virginia.
If a Virginia resident wants to buy a handgun or a long gun, they have to fill out a Federal form and a state form. They have what you call Instacheck so the dealer then contacts the state police and gives them the information off the state form. The state police then gives them an approval number or a denial.
In North Carolina, if you want to buy a handgun, you have to have a North Carolina concealed carry permit or a purchase permit from the sheriff. It must be issued from the county in which you reside, Scales said.
He said he hasnt seen much of an increase in sales at his Virginia store, but he also travels to gun shows up and down the east coast.
I have seen a slight increase on certain items, but not really because the economy in this area is in the tank, so to speak. My business on the show route has increased. But you have to also take into account that it is Christmastime and hunting season was just starting when the election was over. So you are at your busiest time of the year to begin with. But there was an increase on certain things, especially anything that had been involved in the gun ban of 1994, Scales said.
That ban, which was a ban on assault weapons, expired in 2004. Scales said that ban also included any weapon that had a high-capacity magazine holding more than 10 rounds.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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