Gun permits surge 63 percent in Forsyth County

Range sees more enthusiasm from customers, patrons

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Doug Clayton, owner of Bulls Eye Marksman Gun Club and Indoor Range, said he is selling everything he gets his hands on.

“We sell just about everything that comes in the door,” Clayton said. “It’s rare that we get things that go on the shelves for retail.”

At Bulls Eye Marksman, 6190 Parkway North Drive in Cumming, shooting classes are being offered and filling up fast. Every day, new people are coming in as well as regulars honing their skills.

“A lot of new people,” Clayton said. “We have a lot of people just curious about getting started.”

That enthusiasm has not slowed at the Forsyth County Probate Court and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Last month there were 890 permits issued compared with 252 issued in January 2012.

According to public records on data kept by the sheriff’s office, there has been an increase of 63.5 percent, or 1,293 concealed gun permits, from 2,029 in 2011 to 3,322 last year.

Records show that in 2008 weapon permits were at 1,176. In 2009, that jumped to 1,947 and in 2010, the number of county residents getting their weapons permits dropped to 1,662.

Concealed gun permits have been so popular lately that there’s about an eight-week backlog for county residents trying to obtain their firearms license, county officials said.

Permit applications for firearms licenses are handled through probate court and background checks and fingerprinting takes place at the sheriff’s office special services, Suite 225, 475 Tribble Gap Road in Cumming, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.

A permit can be obtained for $67.25 and must be renewed every five years.

Many in the community say they speculate that the reason behind the run on guns is the possibility of stricter gun control laws.

President Barack Obama has planned to introduce universal background checks for all gun buyers, a renewal of the ban on assault weapons and restrict the capacity of ammunition magazines, along with new school safety and mental health programs that were brought to the forefront after the Connecticut school massacre in December.

There were 237 concealed permits issued in December 2011 compared to 673 in December 2012.

“Many comments have been made by the Obama administration that has led people to become fearful of losing their right to bear arms,” said Karleen Chalker, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. “Some individuals have said it is a safety issue after the Connecticut shootings and after the reporting of home invasions in the metro-Atlanta area and nationwide.”

Hailey Hudson, of Forsyth County, said she would like the gun law to get tougher on criminals. Hudson bought her husband a gun for Valentine’s Day.

“My husband hunts,” Hudson said. “Sometimes, it’s how we get our food.”