It could either be fear of the zombie apocalypse or the simple desire to exercise a given right, but whatever the reason a fair number of Kent residents are practicing their right to carry a concealed weapon.
The data show that of the 5,269 valid permit holders in Portage County, 585 of them have Kent addresses. That means 11 percent of the people legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon in Portage County live in the Kent area as of mid May 2012.
The list made available by the sheriff's office did not specify street addresses and instead was categorized by zip code, so the Kent permit holders includes residents who may live in Brimfield or Franklin townships with a Kent postal address.
Somewhat surprisingly, almost triple the number of Kent-area residents who are registered permit holders in Portage County listed an address outside Portage. According to the data, more than 1,600 of the CCW permit holders in Portage County live outside the county in Summit, Cuyahoga, Trumbull, Stark and other Ohio counties.
That means more than 33 percent of the permit holders who registered in Portage actually live outside the county.
If you subtract non-Portage residents, Kent residents with a valid CCW permit account for more than 16 percent of Portage residents who registered for a permit in their home county. The actual number of Kent residents with valid CCW permits could be higher if there are some registered in other counties.
(as of May 2012)Totals
All Portage County
permit holders5,269 100
County residents3,617 68
Kent residents585 11
Non-county residents1,652 31
Kelly Burns has processed concealed carry handgun permit applications for Portage County since the law permitting the action passed in 2004.
Burns said she's seen a big increase in the number of applications since the first of the year.
"I think people are thinking 'I need to protect myself,'" Burns said.
She pointed to incidents like the recent and a Northeast Ohio Cracker Barrel as potential causes for the recent spike in applications.
"I've been doing this since 2004, and there were periods where we would be busy with applications for a few weeks at a time," Burns said. "And we've picked up tremendously this year. We are booked and have been booked since the first of the year. It's non-stop."
Statewide, 16,823 licenses were issued in the first quarter of this year and 1,300 were renewed, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Through 2011, Ohio issued 296,588 concealed carry permits since 2004.
As for the non-Portage residents, Burns said word-of-mouth and recommendations from gun certification professionals is the reason why the Portage County sheriff has 5,700 permit holders.
Some facts about CCW permits:
- Permit applications cost $67 for residents who have lived in Ohio for at least 5 years. The permit applications cost $91 for residents who have lived in the state for less than 5 years.
- CCW permits are valid for 5 years
- Applicants with prior convictions on drug, domestic violence or any felony charge are immediately disqualified and ineligible for a permit.
- CCW permits are approved on a county-by-county basis.
- If your permit is denied, you can appeal.
- There are 16 approved concealed-carry instructors in Portage County
For more information about Ohio's concealed carry laws visit the Ohio Attorney General's website.