A lot of people are walking in and out of the Marion County Sheriff's Department's doors lately, but not to file any complaints. Instead, gun owners are looking to apply for a concealed weapons permit.
Marion County gun owner, Clarence Mathews, explains, "I've had a concealed weapon for at least 20 years. But I just renewed mine today. There's several people that are doing it because the second amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed upon, which is what the Constitution says."
Gun owners, like Clarence Mathews, said it's important to keep a concealed carry permit, just in case he would ever be faced with a situation where he would have to protect himself. Apparently, he's not the only one.
"We had 230 people that actually came in just in the month of January for a permit," said Sheriff Joe Carpenter, Marion County Sheriff's Department.
Sheriff Carpenter said his office is seeing a lot of first time applicants. He said usually the numbers average out, but that hasn't been the case so far this year.
"This month, and definitely last month, it's probably 10-1, actual new applicants to people that are just renewing their [permit]," said Sheriff Carpenter.
Last year marked a record number of mass shootings, including some of the worst we've seen in history. Many believe that's the reason why so many U.S. citizens are now looking to their second amendment rights to stay safe.
"The hype that's going around about gun control, split that with the fact that there are more violent crimes in the communities and our country. Just for personal safety, they're wanting to be able to protect themselves or their families," said Sheriff Carpenter.
For concealed weapons carriers, like Mathews, that's the goal.
"Good guns take out bad guns, it's as simple as that. That's the way it works. So, if it happened at Sandy Hook, it could happen here in Marion County, or Harrison, or Taylor, or any of these counties, or any of these small schools," said Clarence Mathews.
The process for getting a concealed carry permit is pretty simple. Gun owners just have to go to the Sheriff's Department in whatever county they live in, fill out an application, and pay a small fee. After a background check, if they're approved, the Sheriff will sign off on the application. That applicant will then go back to the Sheriff's Department to get their picture taken for a license.
However, one of the most important things that applicants have to do before they even apply for a concealed carry permit is to take a gun safety class. Be sure to tune in to 5 News at 6 on Monday, February 11th for more on that process.
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