The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday January 28th

Gun permits spike amidst discussion of tougher gun control laws

While proposals to curb gun violence continue to be unveiled at the state and national levels, Orange County has experienced a spike in gun permits issued to residents concerned about the new measures.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office issued 89 gun permits in December. That’s almost three times the monthly average for 2010, when the office issued an average of 34.5 gun permits.


gun permits issued in Orange County in December 2012

average permits issued per month in 2010

total permits issued in 2010

million guns in circulation nationwide

The office issued 414 gun permits in 2010.

“This is something you see regularly. You see a spike in sales from the people who are worried about new legislation,” said Christopher Schroeder, a public policy professor at Duke University.

President Barack Obama announced a series of proposed gun restrictions Wednesday, a response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last month where 20 children and six adults were killed by gunman Adam Lanza.

Obama’s plan urges Congress to enforce background checks for all gun purchases, reinstate a ban on certain “assault” weapons such as some semiautomatic rifles, and limit gun magazines to 10 rounds.

Capt. Archie Daniel of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said the increase in gun permits was due to a fear of new regulations.

“We’ve been talking about gun control for a while now,” Daniel said. “I’m sure all the things that have happened in the last month play a factor.”

This increase in gun permits since the shooting means both old and new gun owners are purchasing guns.

“We’ve got close to 300 million in circulation in private ownership,” Schroeder said. “It’s impossible to know where they got them when it comes to crimes.”

The rising rates of gun ownership come at a time when states are also implementing stricter gun laws. Obama’s speech came one day after New York passed the first state gun law changes since the Sandy Hook shooting.

New York’s law will require tougher background checks for gun purchasers and harsher penalties for illegal gun use.

While Schroeder said other states such as Maine and Delaware are likely to pass similar legislation, North Carolina is unlikely to adopt gun restrictions.

“At the moment I don’t hear a great deal of conversation about legislation in North Carolina,” he said. “I just don’t get the sense that there is the same enthusiasm in Raleigh.”

Although new gun laws might not be debated at the state legislature anytime soon, Daniel said regulations are in place to ensure only responsible persons purchase guns.

“Our process is a good one. My biggest concern is that guns get into the hands of children,” he said.

Pro-gun rights groups, such as Grass Roots North Carolina, say legislation that regulates gun ownership infringes on Second Amendment rights.

“What we are seeing is gun control advocates exploiting a tragedy to advance an agenda they have been pushing since the 1980s,” said Paul Valone, the group’s president.

But Obama said in Wednesday’s press conference that he is not trying to target responsible gun users with his legislation.

“We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said.

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