East Alabama pistol permit sales continue to rise

    As 2013 draws to a close, one out of every eight people in Etowah County has a carry-conceal pistol permit.

    "When you're at a population of 104,000 people, and you're selling 13,000 pistol permits, that's a lot," Sheriff Todd Entrekin said.

    Sales are up more than 2,000 from last year and more than 3,000 than in 2011.{} Entrekin said an average of at least 100 people stopped by the sheriff's office each day of the past week.

    "Being the holidays, a lot of people got guns for Christmas," he said.

    However, the sheriff said the main reason for the sudden surge in December is because of the Sandy Hook school shooting that happened in December 2012.

    "Then there was talk about gun control and people went out and there were a lot of first time gun owners.{} That's when we saw our numbers rise," Entrekin said.

    "We're just past the anniversary so here they are getting their permits renewed."

    Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson said his office didn't issue quite as many permits this December.{} As of early Monday afternoon, Calhoun County issued 1,182 permits this month, compared to 1,316 in December 2012.

    However, there may be some people who forgot to renew their permits.{} Amerson said it is vital to do so, and his office will send out reminder cards.

    "You can get arrested if you don't get that permit renewed and you're still carrying your weapon.{} Some people, in all honesty, just forget," Amerson said.

    "They don't intend to neglect that.{} We want to make sure they're safe as far as being legal."

    Records show Calhoun County saw a slight increase this year, from 12,737 permits issued in 2012 to 13,035 as of Monday afternoon.

    For less frequent renewals, a new law allows for the purchase of a permit lasting up to five years.{} Amerson said at least 20% of Calhoun County's permits sold this year are for more than one year.

    Sold for $20--senior citizens get them for $10--that means more money for the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office.{} However, Amerson said his staff will track those early sales to make sure they do not spend it too soon.

    "We don't want to spend money that we would have collected five years from now this year.{} We're accounting for it and spacing it out for the year that we would have collected it," he said.

    Sheriff Entrekin said it is an excellent idea for the customer, but it does not simplify the process for law enforcement.{}

    "A lot can happen in five years.{} At the sheriff's office here, along with throughout the state, we're going to have to continue to run [background checks on] the people every year to make sure that they haven't had an arrest.{} Or make sure that they haven't had something happen in their lives to change their ability to the permit," Entrekin said.

    Etowah County uses all of its pistol permit revenue for school resource officers.

    Calhoun County designates 62% of its sales to the cost of deputy vehicles.{} The rest goes for training, computers, firearms, and other equipment.

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