By RYAN DUNN
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in 2013 issued more than twice as many concealed-carry permits as in 2012, following a statewide trend.
Licenses were granted last year to 858 new applicants and 351 renewal applicants as part of Ohio’s concealed-handgun law. Those 1,209 permits continue a fast pace set over the past few years.
The sheriff’s office approved 579 licenses in 2012 and 318 in 2011.
Through January and February of this year, the office issued 187 licenses.
Last year in Ohio, sheriffs certified 145,342 concealed-carry licenses. That’s up from nearly 77,000 licenses in 2012.
Hancock County Sheriff Michael Heldman said he was not surprised by the latest jump.
Enough residents remain uncertain about the Second Amendment’s future and are concerned about the federal government, he said.
The growth in licenses has not had much impact on deputies on patrol, Heldman said.
Concern about safety and new laws drive much of the concealed-carry increase, Wood County Sheriff’s Deputy Isaiah Loar told the Sentinel-Tribune.
“People are trying to get it before they can’t,” Loar said.
Employees at sheriff’s offices in Putnam, Seneca, Wyandot, Hardin and Wood counties did not return calls seeking comment.
Last year, new and renewal concealed-carry licenses were issued to 328 applicants in Wyandot County, 383 in Putnam County, 542 in Hardin County, 2,475 in Wood County, 1,349 in Allen County and 488 in Seneca County.
People who are at least 21 years old and certified to legally carry a firearm can obtain a concealed-carry license. The license expires every five years.
Wyandot County Sheriff Michael Hetzel said he thinks much of the increase is about exercising rights and maintaining safety.
“Legislators (write laws that) continually send less and less people to prison … Some feel not as safe as they used to,” Hetzel said.