OR CCW Applications Increase


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shooter503
April 29, 2007, 11:30 PM
Dang liberals.

http://www.oregonlive.com/metro/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/117773793153540.xml&coll=7

Handgun license requests soar
Virginia Tech fallout - Demand for certification nearly triples in Multnomah County since the shootings
FACTBOX

• Concealed handgun licenses
Sunday, April 29, 2007
HOLLY DANKS

In the two weeks since the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, Portland-area residents are looking to carry concealed handguns at a greatly increased rate.

Since the April 16 killings of 32 people at Virginia Tech University, sheriff's agencies report that weekly requests for concealed handgun licenses have nearly tripled in Multnomah County and doubled in Washington County.

"I would really like to have seen what one legal gun with some nerve behind it could've done," said Howard Baker, who teaches gun safety classes in Washington County.

"Instead of hiding under desks and jumping out windows, if someone had some lead and guts, he might have killed some, but it wouldn't have been 32," Baker said of the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho.

Baker said eight people were signed up for his class the day Cho, a Virginia Tech senior, opened fire with two handguns in classrooms, hallways and a dormitory. Two nights later, 18 people showed up for shooting instruction. Twenty-two are signed up for this week's class.

The Oregon Firearms Academy in Lebanon added extra personal safety classes in May and June because of increased demand. Still, the classes are booked solid into October. Vivian Abbott, the academy's office manager, said she received more than 40 calls about gun safety classes in the first days after the Virginia Tech shootings.

Similar increases in concealed handgun license requests are often seen after well-publicized violent events. Requests also spiked after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"This was not unexpected," said Lt. John Black, who oversees the concealed handgun unit for the Washington County Sheriff's Office. "It most likely will be momentary and level out."

Across Oregon, 104,065 people are licensed to carry concealed handguns.

"The world's no more dangerous today than it was the day before the Virginia Tech incident," said Lt. Jason Gates, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office spokesman. "But people see this and they panic."

Gates said the Multnomah County concealed handgun unit received an average of six or seven phone calls a day for new applications before the shooting -- and 16 to 18 each day after. And attendance at the weekly handgun safety class was at 18 students Wednesday, compared with the usual six or seven.

In Washington County, requests for concealed handgun license applications went from about 15 a week to 30 a week.

Gun owners with outdated licenses or with firearms kept at home also are requesting carry permits.

"People think they aren't as safe as they thought they were" before Virginia Tech, Black said.

However, he said gun owners need to realize that such an incident "is a rare thing," and Gates noted the Multnomah County crime rate has steadily decreased for six years.

Both agree, however, that residents have the right to receive concealed handgun licenses as long as they qualify.

Applicants need to have completed a gun safety class before requesting a licensing appointment. They also must be at least 21; a U.S. citizen; have no felony or domestic violence convictions and no misdemeanor convictions in the past four years; and never have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

A new license costs $65 and is good for four years.

But along with the ability to carry a gun comes responsibility, Black and Gates said.

"Just because you have the concealed handgun license doesn't mean you are both mentally and technically prepared to use it in a fashion that will make the situation better," Black said. "You have to be prepared to take a person's life."

Gates said concealed handguns can be carried in schools with a permit. But, he said, "I don't know if a whole bunch of guns blazing is better" than having a solitary gunman.

"You can't make the world a completely safe place, and certainly arming everybody is not the proper thing to do."

Holly Danks: 503-221-4377; hollydanks@news.oregonian.com

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