By Justin Jones, Staff Writer
The Stanly News & Press
Friday, January 18, 2013 —
The deadly shootings in Aurora, Colo., Clackamas, Ore., and Newtown, Conn. have many believing that Congress and President Barack Obama will pass legislation in the realm of gun control.
Those shootings have not only had an effect on the activity in Washington, but also in the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office.
The growing number of pistol purchase permits and concealed carry permit applications shows that the public may have a growing concern that gun laws could change sooner rather than later.
In a rural area in which gun ownership might be more common than not, it seems that even more Stanly County residents are choosing to take up ownership of a firearm as permitted in the second amendment.
“We’ve seen both increase,” Sheriff Rick Burris said of the concealed carry and pistol purchase permits.
The Sheriff’s Office yearly report showed that new applications for concealed handgun permits was 425, a striking increase from the 274 from 2011.
The report showed a similar increase in applications for permits to purchase a handgun. In 2011, they received 1,763 applications. In 2012, the applications totalled 2,116.
“That’s a pretty substantial increase,” Burris said.
As the numbers suggest, Burris sees the connection between the ideas of gun control in Washington and the amount of applications to own a handgun in North Carolina, but he feels some of the proposed ideas are unrealistic.
“I think there’s a lot of overreaction to this as far as that they’re going to do something with our guns,” Burris said before giving the extent of what he feels might happen.
“There’s a possibility they could put a ban on assault rifles. There’s a possibility they could outlaw certain clips that hold a certain amount of ammunitions. Or they could stop manufacture of certain ammunitions where the gun would be useless.”
Unsure of what any gun reform may look like in the future beyond speculation, Burris said that the issue isn’t the guns at all.
“The guns are not killing people,” Burris said.
“There’s no defense to someone who wants to hurt you. They’re going to hurt you.
“That’s like saying, ‘Pencils misspell words so we’re going to have to do away with them.’ ”
Instead, Burris said people must use common sense when in possession of a gun and while looking at adjusting laws on gun control.
“If a man or woman has got in his mind that they’re going to do something, there’s no defense to it and people can’t live their life scared to death,” he said.
“If good, upstanding citizens had a weapon on them, possibly they could have taken that person down before they killed all those people,” he said, referring in particular to the shooting in Colorado.
For one to be cleared by the Stanly County Sheriff’s Office to either receive a pistol purchase permit or to receive a concealed carry handgun permit, which does allow one to purchase handguns, Burris said that they are subject to background checks.
Once a person turns in their form to the sheriff’s office, the sheriff reserves the right to have up to 30 days to complete a background check when one applies for a pistol purchase permit. When applying for a concealed carry permit, that process is longer. The background checks include a search through the North Carolina State Bureau of Investation and Federal Bureau of Investgation databases for any criminal history.
“I do think there should be restrictions on who can buy a gun depending on mental capacity, depending on their criminal record or if they’ve had a violent crime,” Burris said.
“There’s circumstances that would naturally prohibit someone from being able to possess, purchase and carry a weapon. I think North Carolina’s laws are as good as any state in the country.”
The background check through those databases denied a permit to purchase a handgun to 11 people out of the 2,116 who applied in 2012.
“And, most people know when they can’t get a permit. They don’t bother to come up here. So, that’s 11 denied in 2012 and 12 denied in 2011.”
But with the background check as a safety measure, and if one has the mental capacity to understand the dangers of a firearm, Burris said he has no issue signing for one to own a gun.
“Personally, I am pro-guns. I think everybody’s got the right to own a gun that doesn’t have a criminal record and is mentally competent, the whole nine yards,” Burris said.
“I think people’s got a right to protect themselves.
“The government can’t protect you, law enforcement can’t protect you.
“Your crooks are going to get their guns because they don’t care what the law says. Laws are made for honest people.”
As Burris mentioned, law enforcement cannot be everywhere at all times. It’s for that reason and in the event of a dangerous situation, Burris said, that people should have the chance to protect themselves.
“If a man owns a gun and he’s a law abiding citizen, and he’s got that gun to protect himself and his family, so be it. I’m all for it,” he said.
To submit story ideas, contact Justin Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or (704) 982-2121 ext. 24.