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Gun permit applications surge in Gwinnett

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County probate court was so busy processing firearms applications last week that, on both Thursday and Friday, no staff members could be reached to provide updated statistics.

Amid a flourishing national debate over gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, Gwinnett Probate Judge Walter Clarke said Wednesday that his court had received record numbers of applications for firearms permits.

"This week has been unusual," Clarke said. "We'll probably break our record for issuing firearm licenses during the year."

Until new photo IDs were introduced this year, Clarke said his office had averaged about 15 permits per day. The improved ID cards bumped that number up to about 30 for the majority of 2012, he said.

On Monday, officials said 57 gun permits were filed. On Tuesday, 74 more were received. Clarke said he expected Wednesday's total to surpass even that, which he believed to be a record.

On Friday, a staff member said everyone in the court's office was too busy filing applications to provide updated statistics. A line for the probate office -- which also handles other functions including marriage licenses and birth certificates -- was nearly to a neighboring courtroom.

Clarke said there's usually no line at all.

The retiring judge didn't speculate as to the rationale behind the surge, but applicant Tyrone Hill did.

"It's for my own protection, and it's also one of those situations where you don't want to be the only one without one," said Hill, a Snellville resident who recently returned home from the Navy. "I'm just trying to keep within the limits of the law, before they change the law."

In recent days, President Barack Obama has urged tighter federal gun laws and asked Vice President Joe Biden to head up a task force on gun violence. The National Rifle Association held a press conference Friday advocating armed guards in the nation's schools.

Hill, who spent nine years in Japan, where guns are prohibited, said he was attempting to be permitted for a firearm both out of habit formed during his military service and because of gun rights' uncertain future.

"My other big reason was because even though they're supposedly banning assault rifles, that's not stopping the criminals from getting assault rifles," Hill said. "Only law-abiding citizens follow the laws. So what are we going to do about the criminals that have these guns, and they ways they get them?"

Suwanee resident Duane Downs was also applying for a gun permit Friday, but said his action wasn't spurred by anything in particular.

"I don't know that we should be feeling any more afraid where we live than we did last month, or the year before, or the week before," he said.

On the flip side, Gwinnett County police said they haven't received many guns from residents in light of the tragedy. It was reported last week that authorities in Camden, N.J., had received a record number of such voluntary forfeitures.

"We have not seen an increase in this type of thing," police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said. "We get very few of these (in general)."

Comments

gwinnettresident1 1 year, 11 months ago

Dont get out there might be some legals out with their pistols on there belt or pocket book....You know we wouldnt defend you if you were being robbed...Would just walk on by.

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R 1 year, 11 months ago

Just ANOTHER set of citizens carrying the paperwork that others WON'T do...

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R 1 year, 11 months ago

BUT jobs were created!!!

VP Joe gets to add them to his list...

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NewsReader 1 year, 11 months ago

Here is something for the President and his idiotic puppeteer VP, Joe Biden, don't seem to understand. They can stand up there in Washington and beat their chest and mouth off all they want. They don't have the authority to do anything about guns. They only thing they can do is run off at the mouth about it, and of course, sign a bill into law presented to them by Congress.

If congress wants to pass legislation to control guns, let them go ahead. They will be seeking employment elsewhere after the next election - and might be doing that anyway. In the meantime, I have no problem with requiring background checks and licenses to carry firearms. Other than that, when it comes to what firearms I do have and acquire, that is and will remain none of their or your business.

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JV 1 year, 11 months ago

With a county population of 800k+ this doesn't sound like much of a "surge". Sounds like just more media hysteria about guns in America.

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TOWG 1 year, 11 months ago

Let's see, in 2011 the average was 15 per day and last weeks applications were an increase of 500% over that. 500%!! Yeah, I'd call that a surge. Let's also remember that each and every one of those applications adds $75 to the county treasury. It would appear that folks that are concerned about being able to protect themselves from our thug brethren are willing to pay good money to secure their right to keep and bear arms. What part of "should in no way be infringed" do you not understand?

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Mack711 1 year, 11 months ago

Wonder how many were renewals and how many were new applications? This process will not stop the criminals from having weapons, just ride MARTA train to the airport and see how many have weapons. As some one said this is a method of taxation and security checks on law abiding citizens.

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micronmike 1 year, 11 months ago

Most of these people already owned the gun and thought, hey I better register this thing just incase.

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hydroplane 1 year, 11 months ago

Do these people feel more protected now that they are on a government list of owning firearms that will likely be banned before the end of this presidency? You are just giving them a reason to kick down your door, shoot your dog and taser you while taking your property and filing any charges they can to ruin your life. These fools are falling into a trap laid out by the media and government that is preying on paranoia and confusion.

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