More and more people are getting permits to carry concealed weapons, both around the state and in Harvey County.
According to figures released by the state attorney general, there were 12,408 permit applications in the just finished fiscal year of 2012, up from 9,148 in 2011. Since the law was enacted in 2006 allowing concealed carry in Kansas, there have been more than 44,000 permits issued.
Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said he has noticed an increase locally in people wanting permits to carry concealed weapons.
“We are getting about 15 applications per month,” Walton said. “Just this week we have had seven.”
He was not sure why there has been an increase.
“Some people are afraid the government is going to take their guns, but there are several reasons people want permits,” Walton said. “There have also been some burglaries. There are several reasons that people have (for wanting a permit).”
To get a concealed carry permit, a person has to complete a nine-hour class. That application has to be approved by the sheriff, and the person must be finger-printed.
Bart Kellum, owner of Patriot Pawn in Newton, sells firearms and conducts classes for concealed carry permits.
“I think there is more interest now,” he said, noting he has seen an increase in people wanting to take the class.
“It makes it legal to carry a gun anywhere you want that is legal,” he said.
There are some places, such as churches, courthouses and posted businesses, where it is not allowed even with a permit.
"There are people who worry about the government knowing what they are doing. For the rest of us it is just about having the freedom to carry a weapon," Kellum said.
But with freedom comes a lot of responsibility. Kellum realizes that and he said he tries to make sure people getting permits understand that as well.
"Having a concealed weapon is a decision maker," he said. "You have to get this thought down. If you have a gun and you get into a situation, the gun is there and becomes part of the situation."
The classes center on the law and how to handle situations. People are encouraged to find a way to not use their weapon and to think very carefully before using their weapon.
"If you do use your weapon, it will change your life forever," Kellum said.
Walton said he has not seen any problems as a result of people carrying concealed weapons.
Walton has to do a background check on people who apply. A person with a felony conviction, or a domestic battery charge, would be rejected, he said.
So far he has passed all the applications he has received.
Page 2 of 2 - It is legal to carry weapons openly, Walton said.
"But if someone is carrying a weapon down Main Street, and if a law enforcement officer sees them, they are going to get questioned," Walton said.