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Originally published: 2009-08-18 15:25:57
Last modified: 2011-06-24 11:55:03

Armed & Numerous: Concealed carry handgun permits on the rise

by Melanie Marshall

The number of people obtaining concealed carry handgun permits is on the rise in Watauga County.

A concealed carry permit allows someone to have a handgun concealed on or about their person in certain locations, such as a vehicle or private businesses.

In 2007, the Watauga County Sheriff's Office issued 182 permits. There were 270 permits issued in 2008.

Thus far in 2009, the numbers have shown an increase.
 
There were 342 permits issued during the first seven months. These figures include renewals of existing permits.

To obtain a permit, a person must complete a minimum of eight hours of training, including the use of deadly force, legal issues,restrictions and live fire testing to demonstrate a proficiency in handling a firearm.

Concealed weapons are prohibited, regardless of permit, at law enforcement or correctional facilities, any space occupied by state or federal employees, financial institutions, educational property, places where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed, courthouses, local government buildings that are posted.
nt size="4"> Four cardinal rules of safe gun handlingnt>
1.    Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
2.    Point the muzzle in a safe direction at all times.
3.    Keep finger outside the trigger guard and on the frame until the gun is
       on target and the shooter has decided to fire.
4.    Be sure of the target, what is around it and behind it.

Owners of private businesses may post a sign on the door prohibiting concealed weapons.

In addition to the required training, applicants must also be 21 years of age, can not suffer a mental infirmity that prevents safe handling of a firearm, have no felony convictions and have not been discharged from the military under less than honorable circumstances.

The state of North Carolina enacted the concealed carry handgun law that allowed qualifying people to carry a concealed handgun in July of 1995.

Since then, 998 Watauga residents have received a permit. Seven permits have been revoked for violations of the above-listed restrictions.

In Ashe and Avery counties, 678 and 363 permits have been issued. Statewide, 158,590 people have concealed carry permits according to the Attorney General Roy Cooper's office.

Anyone seeking a concealed carry handgun permit can contact the Watauga County Sheriff's Office at (828) 264-3761 for a listing of certified training instructors in the area.

Melanie Marshall may be reached at melanie@mountaintimes.com.