Opinion

Is the increase in concealed carry permits a problem?

An editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The number of West Virginia citizens obtaining concealed weapons permits has quadrupled in the past five years, according to data provided by the West Virginia State Police.

In 2009, county sheriff’s departments issued 11,160 concealed carry gun permits. In 2013, that number had jumped to 44,981, the police reported to the West Virginia Press Association.

In total, about 92,000 West Virginians had permits in 2011 — five percent of the state’s population.

Is that a problem? It depends on one’s way of thinking. “More guns on the street translates into more potential for violence,” some might think.

But consider this: “What you have to remember is these are law-abiding citizens going through the proper process,” said Lt. Michael Baylous, spokesman for the West Virginia State Police. “The criminals don’t go through the proper process to get a permit.”

 People applying for a permit must be at least 21 years of age; have no felony conviction nor a violent misdemeanor involving a deadly weapon or a crime of domestic violence; complete handgun training; and never been declared mentally incompetent by a court. They also must pay a $100 fee.

There is political and academic debate as to whether right to carry gun laws actually increase or reduce crime.

In his 2010 book, “More Guns, Less Crime,” economist John Lott claims a reduction in violent crimes with higher rates of concealed-handgun permits. But a 2008 Harvard Injury Control Research Center study broadly concluded that “the changes have neither been highly beneficial nor highly detrimental,” according to FactCheck.org.

The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right in the U.S., guaranteed by the 2nd amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But a less secure right in West Virginia is the right of the public to know how many gun permits are issued each year and who they are issued to…

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