In the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, applications for concealed weapons permits in Virginia have more than doubled in the first three months of the year, according to caseload figures from the Supreme Court of Virginia.
The number of applications went from 21,732 for the three-month period last year to 48,943 for the same period this year.
The trend is fairly consistent in courts across the state. Even in urban Arlington County, the pace has picked up to the point the circuit court clerk’s staff spends four to five hours a day on carry permits, according to a recent report in the Arlington Sun Gazette. The county saw applications increase from 249 in the first quarter of 2012 to 458 for the same period this year.
Arlington Circuit Court Clerk Paul Ferguson told the paper he traced the increase back to last summer, when fingerprint requirements were lifted. The real boost came after the Connecticut shootings, however.
In Fairfax County, Clerk John Frey told the paper he hired additional part time staff to help handle the increase. Fairfax applications went from 1,377 to 2,913.
In Suffolk, where the first quarter numbers grew from 268 to 594, Clerk Randy Carter told the Suffolk News-Herald the increase is driven in part by a fear the government will try to disarm the citizenry. Other applicants are just worried about their safety, he said.
Come July 1, it will no longer be possible to check on who has a concealed weapon permit. A new law will close the records to public inspection.