April 9, 2013
The number of concealed handgun permits is on the rise in both Charlottesville and Albemarle County.
"It's been 20 to 25 per week. In the first two weeks of 2013, probably double that," said Charlottesville's circuit court clerk, Llezelle Dugger.
The increase in concealed handgun permits began after the November elections, but has spiked even more since Jan. 1. The increase has also lead to increased gun sales.
"We've seen a very large uptick in first-time ownership," said Mike Brookman, owner of Albemarle County Firearms.
Albemarle County reports 286 premits issued as of Tuesday for the year. While the clerk's office did not have numbers for the previous two years available, a representative says the numbers are up.
In Charlottesville, the clerk has approved 80 permits so far in 2013. Last year, the courts issued 181 total, and in 2011, just 101.
"So if you project out, we could have upward of over 300 this year alone," Dugger said.
Fear of stricter gun control legislation in Washington could be one contributing factor to the spike, as could the change of seasons.
"We generally see an uptick, maybe not this dramatic like we've seen lately, but just the season has a lot to do with it," Brookman said.
Dugger says she expects another spike in July, after a new Virginia law takes effect that seals all concealed handgun permit applications. Currently, the public has access to the documents.
"Folks will think their privacy is better protected, so they'll apply," Dugger said.
As the national gun control debate continues, it's expected the rise in concealed permits will, as well.