Fewer concealed carry permits were issued in 2017 than in previous years, according to state statistics.

On March 1, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine released the 2017 annual Concealed Carry Report, which contains concealed carry permit statistics for Ohio.

A concealed carry or carrying a concealed weapon states a person is permitted to carry a weapon in a concealed manner in public.

According to the report, 77,281 new permits were issued during 2017. That contrasts with the 117,953 new licenses that were issued in 2016. Athens followed that trend and reported about 153 fewer new licenses issued in 2017 compared to the previous year.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said that the drop in permits issued does not indicate a disinterest in concealed carry permits but simply reflects how long permits are valid. Smith said there is usually a five-year cycle between influxes of people getting their licenses because a permit is valid for five years before it needs renewed.

Smith said the first step is to go to the National Rifle Association or complete a training course from somebody who is certified to teach one. Then, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations performs a background check. If the background check comes back clean, a person is entitled to get a permit.

Ryan Evans, a senior studying political science who is the former president of the Ohio University College Republicans, said he thinks that in light of events such as the Parkland shooting, people will continue to get their permits and buy guns. Evans said after shootings, people have a desire to defend themselves and because they are worried the hard push for more legislation will take away their right to obtain weapons.

“Over the next couple years, people are going to be more inclined to get their permits because it seems like, you know, the evil in this world is not going away anytime soon, and people want to be able to defend themselves in their own homes and in public,” Evans said.

Bailey Williams, a sophomore studying economics who was elected as the 2018-19 president of the OU College Democrats, said he doesn’t want to speculate, but he thinks the decline of violent crime across the U.S. means people do not need concealed carry permits to protect themselves in public.

“I believe the marginal cost of going through the class and being responsible for carrying the weapon lawfully is far higher than the marginal benefit of being able to protect yourself from a crime that is more likely than not not going to happen,” Williams said in an email.

If people with concealed carry permits are arrested for crimes such as domestic violence, assault or a protection order violation, their concealed carry licenses will be revoked and they usually cannot get them back.

“If they get completely acquitted, that’s something we can revisit and that’s, you know, our discretion,” Smith said. “If I hold somebody’s permit back, they can appeal through the common pleas court.”

Smith said there has been one case before where someone had a criminal record but wanted their concealed carry license back. He held off on reissuing the license because the law could have been interpreted in many ways. The person appealed through the Athens County Court of Common Pleas, and, eventually, the sheriff’s office received a court order to give the permit back.

“A lot of people are, in large, law abiding citizens ‘cause we do run the background check,” Smith said. “So, in general, we have very few problems with them.”

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