The number of people applying for permits in Cobb continues to skyrocket each month. For January alone, three times more applications were submitted than in the same month a year ago.
That is resulting in an unexpected windfall for Cobb County government, with $22 coming into the county’s general fund every time someone applies for a weapons permit.
In November, 647 Cobb residents applied for permits. That number spiked to 1,212 in December and 1,855 in January, according to information obtained from the Cobb County Probate Court. In January a year ago, only 590 local residents applied for permits, so the numbers have more than tripled in the span of a year.
Cobb residents must pay $72.25 to apply for a concealed weapons permit.
Based on January 2013 numbers alone, Cobb collected more than $134,000 in license application fees.
Andrea Arruda in the Cobb County Probate Court Office said $5 of the fee goes to the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office for fingerprinting, $37.25 to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct a background check, $7 to a vendor that makes the licenses, $1 to the probate judge retirement fund and $22 to the Cobb County General Fund.
After March 1, the GBI’s portion will go up to $44.25, causing the application fee to increase to $79.25.
No let up in sight
The rush to buy guns and get permits to carry them began initially after the re-election of President Barack Obama. It picked up steam after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, Arruda said. After that shooting on Dec. 14, politicians, led by the president, started talking about the need for increased gun control.
That touched off a new round of panic buying from residents who fear they may not always have the right to purchase certain types of weapons or ammunition, according to local gun dealers.
Eric Wallace, whose father owns Adventure Outdoors off South Cobb Drive in Smyrna, said his store has seen the permit application increases reflected in their store’s retail sales.
“The highest rate of increases seems to be in women and first-time buyers,” Wallace said. “The next highest would be in the younger folks in the 20-something age range.”
A majority of the recent sales have been smaller handguns that people can keep on them if they’ve been approved by the sheriff for a concealed-carry license.
More shooters on the ranges
The increased traffic is also being seen at the store’s gun range.
Wallace said on Monday, all 17 lanes were filled throughout the day with rolling waiting lists.
“It was shocking on a Monday because usually we’re at capacity on Friday and Saturday,” he said.
They’re looking at adding more gun safety seminars as well.
“We offer two classes the first Saturday of every month and this month, we had 200 people in each class,” he said. “That’s more than we’ve ever had.”
The staff has also been affected by the extra purchases. They have 45 full-time employees, but Wallace said they hired two people on Tuesday.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this story listed the cost for fingerprinting for the permit as $30.25. The correct fee is $37.25.