Concealed gun permits fell in ’14

FRONT ROYAL — Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick counties recorded sharp drops in the number of concealed handgun permits issued by their clerks of circuit court in 2014.

The combined total of 2,757 permits issued in the three counties was far off the 3,667 permits approved in 2013.

Warren County’s total of 660 permits in 2014 was the lowest in the last three years. The numbers for the last months of 2014 were generally lower than those for the early part of the year.

The number of permits recorded ranged from a high of 81 in January and April to lows of 35 in June and 38 in November. Except for August, permits were down each month in 2014 from the total for the same month in 2013.

Warren County Clerk of Circuit Courts Jennifer Sims said the number of permits could be interpreted as a barometer of political tensions in Washington over gun control bills.

The high demand for permits in early 2013 coincided with a push by President Obama and some members of Congress for new gun laws after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012. The legislation failed after weeks of bitter debate, and has remained dormant at the federal level since then.

“There was talk of taking guns away from people and then the hype died down, and people backed off a little bit,” Sims said.

Sims said the data does not differentiate between new permits and renewals. Each permit is good for a period of five years. People who already possess permits must apply for new ones when they move to a different county.

“Some people say, ‘I’m getting it because I can,'” Sims said of those seeking permits.

In Frederick County, the total number of permits issued plummeted from 1,745 in 2013 to 1,336.

Shenandoah County recorded a total of 761 permits, with a high of 108 in March and a low of 29 in August.

Incomplete totals from 2013 showed the Shenandoah County Clerk of Circuit Courts issued 1,043 permits from January through November.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com