As the issue of gun control continues to heat up around the country, those purchasing guns locally and obtaining gun permits have gone up considerably, according to business owners and the Dawson County Probate Court.
Paul Mincey, owner of Dawsonville Gun & Pawn, agrees that ammunition has been one of the best sellers, particularly since the December massacre of 28 schoolchildren and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Mincey said that demand for firearms has gone down over the past two weeks just a touch, but not with ammo. Ammunition sales are still off the chart.
He says that he has currently placed a limit on ammunition sold to two boxes per caliber, daily.
Ammunition has also been a concern for Walmart, with the corporate ownership instituting a limit on ammunition sales for all Walmarts. Dawsonville manager Barry Killian said that there wasnt a real problem on the local level, but that some people were going in to various stores across the country and purchasing all of the ammunition in stock. Were on allotments now where its three boxes per customer per day, he explained.
The limits went into effect in January, with no specific timeframe as to when it would end.
There has also been an increase in permits issued. While a gun owner does not need a permit, if he wants to carry a concealed weapon, he must have a permit.
Beth Hill with the probate courts office said that there has been a significant spike in gun permits being issued.
We did 590 (permits) in 2012, Hill said, and in 2013, so far, were already at 223.
There is also a scheduled price increase to apply for a gun permit, beginning in March. Probate Court Judge Jennifer Burt says that the exact increase has not been released yet, but it will go up March 1. Permits are currently $67.25, along with a $5 fee for finger printing, which is done at the Dawson County Sheriffs Office. Part of (the fee) is for the license itself, and the majority of it goes to the Georgia Crime Information Center for the background check, Burt said.
Burt further explained that a person must be 21 to obtain a gun permit, and that there is only one type of permit issued in the state of Georgia. Its a permit to carry, and is also a concealed weapons permit, she said.
As Mincey explained, it is not necessary to have a permit to own a gun, but since a background check is part of the process of obtaining a permit, someone with a license is not subject to a background check when they go to purchase a gun.
If you dont have the permit, then you have to get the background check, he said.
Dwight Gilleland with Dawsonville Hardware says that the biggest change hes noticed is that people have noticed.
People have noticed Ive got guns for sale, he said. They didnt know I had access to guns.
Gilleland used to own a gunsmith shop in downtown Dawsonville which closed around four years ago. Ive just now gotten the guns down here, and displayed and accounted for, he said. Ammunition has been the bigger interest, and the bigger amount of sales that Ive been able to accomplish.
While neither Gilleland nor Killian have noticed a significant increase in actual firearm sales at their respective stores, Mincey said gun sales have been off the charts.
The week after the Connecticut shooting, we did more in sales than we did in our first year of business (1993), he said. We sold out of ... the assault-type weapons. As Mincey explained it, the supply has remained the same but demand has tripled.
We still have over 2,000 firearms in stock, but those are more handguns, revolvers, regular hunting-type weapons, shotguns, he listed.
People with felony convictions are not allowed to own guns. Additionally, a person with three DUIs within the past five years or any domestic violence conviction cannot legally obtain a gun.
According to Mincey, mental health issues are also supposed to be included in background checks. However, with medical privacy laws in place, mental health is one of the more overlooked distinctions on a background check.
You can see from the past shootings that poor mental health ... a closer check on mental health issues is needed, he said.
The debate has reached a state level, with nine bills total being introduced in both the Georgia House and Senate. Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51) is a co-sponsor of two bills, SB 74 and SB 93. Senate Bill 74 allows for military personnel between the ages of 18-21 with proof of basic training would be able to apply for a weapons carry license, with SB 93 would allow for silencers to be used when hunting wildlife.
The other bills address a variety of issues: HB 28 would allow places of worship to be removed from the list of unauthorized locations to carry a gun. House Bill 29 would allows for guns at any institutes of post-secondary education. And HB 35 will allow for local boards of education to designate one or more administrators at each school to possess and carry firearms.
For more information on obtaining a gun permit in the state of Georgia, Burt advises to visit the website georgiacarry.org. There is a Frequently Asked Questions link on the left-hand side of the screen.