Concealed carry applicants jumped 500% in some northwest Ohio counties; Sheriffs offer words of caution to criminals

By Chad D. Baus

The Lima News is reporting that the number of people obtaining licenses to carry a concealed handgun exploded in 2009 to as high as 500 percent in some northwest Ohio counties.

And that has county sheriffs offering words of caution - to criminals:

"I hope criminals think twice before they attempt to steal from someone or harm someone," remarked Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon.

Allen County Sheriff Sam Crish added, "With the numbers growing, it's a huge risk if you're committing some type of offense you don't know who may be carrying."

From the story:

Solomon's department issued 464 new licenses in 2009 compared to 93 the previous year. But his agency is not alone. Putnam County Sheriff Jim Beutler issued 139 new licenses compared to 31 in 2008, an increase of 448 percent.

Allen County more than doubled its number issued at 684 last year compared to 323 in 2008. The county has 1,867 license holders, although some are from nearby counties. The number of license holders in Allen County represents nearly 2 percent of the population, which mirrors the state as a whole.

Sheriff Crish is quoted as saying people obtaining licenses should put criminals on notice that people are serious about protecting themselves. And those people come from all walks of life and all professions and include women and men, both old and young.

The numbers include a slight increase of 5 percent in women obtaining their licenses.

"There's a lot of single mothers. They're just concerned for their safety," Crish said.

Insight Firearms Training and Development Instructor Steve Farmer also suggested criminals should find a different line of work or risk the potential for a deadly confrontation. Farmer teaches concealed-carry training courses. Ohio law requires 12 hours on laws, safety and marksmanship.

"Law enforcement is only minutes away when seconds count. People realize law enforcement is not their personal bodyguard," Farmer said.

Overall, self-protection and protecting a person's family is the No. 1 reason Crish heard from those applying for their licenses.

Early in the year, people were afraid of the possibility of new gun laws, something many referred to as the Obama Effect after President Barack Obama, who some say strongly opposes guns. But that faded after the first three months of the year while those seeking their licenses remained well above average for the previous five years, Solomon said.

Local sheriffs embrace concealed-carry.

"These are law-abiding citizens who have their concealed-carry license and I believe should have that right," Solomon said.

Crish said one of the best things that has come from it has been the education it provides gun owners not only on gun safety but the law, which makes it clear deadly force can only be used when the threat of deadly force or great physical harm exists.

It is expected that the number of people obtaining their licenses will remain above average this year but not as high as the large spike in early 2009.

There are currently 169,000 Ohio citizens licensed to carry handguns. Anytime you are in a group of five dozen adults, odds are there is one with you. If you are with a group that is older or more affluent than average, the odds are even greater. In short, there are few public locations you can travel where there will not be a license-holder near. Unfortunately, because of the many places license-holders are still prohibited from carrying their guns, the license does not necessarily translate into having someone ready and armed to stop an attack. Ft. Hood is the most recent example of the true effect of disarming those trained to carry a gun.

Related Stories:
Attorney General announces Third Quarter 2009 CHL statistics

Attorney General announces Second Quarter 2009 CHL statistics

Attorney General announces First Quarter 2009 CHL statistics

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