Demand for gun permits drops
July 11, 2010 12:36 am
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
A spike in the number of Virginians seeking permits for concealed handguns after the 2008 presidential election has eased.
State police records show that the number of permits issued in 2009 to carry a concealed weapon was almost 21 percent higher than the number of permits issued in 2008.
But permit numbers for the first half of 2010 are almost 40 percent lower than for the same time period in 2009.
Virginia circuit courts recorded 26,317 concealed-carry permits issued between January and June of 2010, compared with 43,273 permits issued in the same time period in 2009.
The drop doesn't surprise Virginia Citizens Defense League President Philip Van Cleave.
The spike was due, at least in part, to concern that President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress would enact stricter gun laws.
So far that hasn't happened, and Van Cleave said that, plus the fact that many people who wanted concealed-handgun permits now have them, has contributed to the lower numbers this year.
"Indeed there was a massive vertical climb" in permit applications, Van Cleave said. "A lot of things have leveled off now because a lot of people that wanted to do this have managed to get in the door. There was an initial concern that Obama would come in and start banning guns. It didn't [happen], and over time that's also part of the leveling-out."
SOME SEEK UTAH PERMITS
More than 228,000 Virginians have active concealed-handgun permits, according to the state police.
Some of them also have permits from other states to carry concealed handguns.
Utah is particularly popular, because more states honor Utah's permit than honor Virginia's.
According to a recent Reuters article, more non-Utahans now have Utah-issued concealed-carry permits than do Utah residents.
Van Cleave said it's nothing new for gun owners to get permits from Utah--he has been teaching the class required by Utah for a person to receive a permit there for about eight years.
"It's been pretty busy for quite a few years now. I've taught classes as large as 30 or 40 people," Van Cleave said.
Most people seeking a Utah permit already have a Virginia one, he said--getting another permit from another state such as Utah mostly appeals to people who travel a lot, especially to or through states that honor the Utah permit but not the Virginia one, such as Alabama or Georgia.
The requirements for a Utah permit are similar to those in Virginia: Applicants must pass a criminal background check and take a class to qualify.
"You still have to get the training, so no, there's nothing there that would get around our laws," Van Cleave said. "Plus, when you carry in Virginia you have to obey all the laws regardless of where your permit's from."
GUN ISSUES ARE HOT TOPIC
It has been a busy couple of weeks for gun issues. On July 1, a new state law allowing concealed-carry permit holders to carry concealed in restaurants, as long as they don't drink, took effect.
And at the end of June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms not just against federal government infringement, but also against interference from state and local governments as well, a ruling that could upend gun restrictions in various states.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has said he will review Virginia's gun laws in light of the ruling. Van Cleave said he doubted much would change in Virginia.
He said the Virginia Constitution already describes the right to bear arms as an individual right.
"For states that don't have that, like California and some of these other states, this is a big deal for them," Van Cleave said.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028