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Rise in crime, fear of ban cause surge in carrying of concealed weapons

In light of the recent homicides in Lamar County extending to other parts of Middle Georgia the feeling of helplessness and insecurity have grown considerably. In just the first two months of 2009 some 33 concealed weapons permits have been granted according to Lamar County Probate Court. While no person has to give an exact reason for seeking a license much speculation has been made that reason rests between a need to feel safe and protected, fear of a government crackdown, and self-propagated pressure. The Obama administration, specifically cited by many Georgia gun owners as the reason they applied for concealed-carry permits within the last six months, supports restrictions on certain kinds of guns and certain kinds of gun sales. The president has presented Democrats with the idea that although he grew up in Chicago and never went hunting or fishing, he respects the second amendment and wants to allow American citizens to be sportsmen and practice their right to protect themselves and their families. In fact, it is outlined on his campaign website, where you have to find his position on the 2nd Amendment under “additional issues, sportsmen.” In almost the same breath he has also stated, “I continue to support a ban on concealed carry laws.” This you will not find on his campaign website or on the national government website. His views on CCW remain speculative, at best. But perhaps, rightly so. It boils down to his statement on the campaign trail in September. “This has been peddled again and again. Here’s what I believe: people have the right to bear arms. But I also believe there is nothing wrong with some common-sense gun safety measures.” Notes Don Holmes, current victim advocate for the Lamar County sheriff’s office, “just being able to carry a concealed weapon doesn’t mean you have a license to be reckless. I would imagine many people get their permit to feel more protected. If they knew the law, though, they would realize that in many cases they do not need such a license to protect themselves or their homes in case of an emergency. Lamar has wonderful emergency response and your cell phone can sometimes be as much weapon as you need.” This is a point not usually taken into consideration and certainly not one held by all concealed carriers. As a party, the Democrats seem to want, by in large, federal control over concealed weapon and firearm licenses. Currently such permitting is left to state control. But with rising amounts of concerned citizens applying for their CCW you would think a law was on the brink of being enacted. ”In the past three or four months we have seen an abnormal rise in the number of applicants for a concealed weapon, especially while the campaign was in full swing,” notes deputy Suzanne Cooper. “Just yesterday we processed nine people before 1 p.m. People just express a concern for more protection.” The process is exceedingly easy and perhaps even a bit lax. As with many things in Lamar County, probate court is the first stop where a valid Georgia driver’s license and a $34.25 processing fee get you the appropriate papers to present at the sheriff’s office. Once at the sheriff’s office you give your probate court folder to the dispatcher desk who then submits most of the paperwork to a criminal check. While this takes place an applicant is escorted back to have their fingerprint rolls taken. These are then sent to the GBI office in Atlanta to be run through their database. Once all this information has returned clear the sheriff then reviews and approves your CCW application. You are then contacted by the probate court to pick up your CCW. The entire process takes seven to 14 business days. When asked recently at a well populated service station John Smith [name changed for protective reasons] made it clear that “I don’t carry because I don’t feel safe. In fact, most times I don’t even carry. But with Democrats leading our country and knowing their stance on gun laws, I don’t want my freedom taken away. I want to make sure I’m prepared in case you can’t buy guns or ammo anymore.” Just a year ago this sentiment might have seemed untimely or even absurd. But a trip to Wal-Mart in Thomaston reveals it may not be so off the mark. “We are no longer selling firearms. No one from corporate has given a reason. We were just told not to sell firearms,’ said Roger Allman, a manager at Wal-Mart. Adds Stan Hamrick, owner of Hamrick’s Sporting Goods & Pawn, ‘After November 2 things went crazy. AR-15s, AK-47s, and other ‘black’ tactical weapons are virtually impossible to get a hold of.’ According to local residents ammunition is in short supply and retail locations like Wal-Mart that used to stock a plethora of slugs, bullets and shells are now working just to keep up with demand. ”We haven’t been able to keep .22s and .30 caliber rounds on the shelves since the new year. In fact, the manufacturers haven’t even been able to meet the demand from consumers,” said Teddy Hardaman, manager of the sporting goods department at Wal-Mart in Thomaston. “A lot of people are afraid that taxes on guns are going to get so high they won’t be able to purchase ammunition at a reasonable price. Folks are stockpiling. We just started getting our shelves truly stocked this week.” Whether the concern is for personal safety, government crackdown or unfounded industry hype, there is no denying that more and more citizens are taking their second amendment rights seriously and putting into practice their own right to bear arms.

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