If you walk into the Williams County Sheriff’s Office this week, odds are there will be a line of people either turning in or picking up an application to carry concealed weapons.
“From what we were told, there were more than 60 people in Williams County alone going through CCW classes last week and 32 more in Paulding County,” Sheriff’s Clerk Kelly Higgins said last week. “I just had two people this morning from Fulton County who took a class in Bowling Green.”
People choose to register in Williams County because the sheriff’s office is open. Higgins, or fellow Clerk Lisa Nye, will process an application any time from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday without an appointment. In comparison, the Defiance, Fulton and Henry County Sheriffs’ offices process applications by appointment only with limited hours. Defiance County takes them on Mondays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursdays 1 to 8 p.m. and Fridays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fulton County takes them 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and Henry County takes them 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Higgins has processed 373 new CCW applications and 167 renewals this year.
“The fourth quarter has been the busiest,” she said. Since October, she’s processed 117 new applications and 42 application renewals.
“We’re just trying to be more convenient for the community,” Williams County Sheriff Steve Towns said. “We have two clerks and the equipment set up for employment checks all the time. CCWs aren’t that different and it’s not that hard to break away and get one started. We’re glad to help and do what we can.”
Mitch Stanley, of Stanley’s Guns and Ammo, 803 W. Jackson St., West Unity, has also seen a recent increase in demand. “We had two full (CCW) classes in a row and two in January are filling up,” he said.
“It’s a combination of reasons,” Stanley said. “The shooting in (San Bernardino,) California put a lot of fear in people and sheriffs are recommending their citizens get armed. People tend to follow that kind of advice.”
Towns is also an advocate for carrying responsibly.
“The people getting permits aren’t the problem,” Towns said. “They’ve always been very responsible and we haven’t seen any issues from them. We’re kind of out here on our own a little bit, away from the cities and a responsible community able to defend itself is a very good deterrent.
“Our citizens out here also tend to be more knowledgeable about guns through hunting and sports,” he said. “Getting a CCW permit is a pretty natural extension of that.
“The cities with the strictest gun laws are the biggest killing zones,” Towns said. “Chicago. Washington, D.C. The majority of that is gang-related but it doesn’t matter. They still have innocent people being killed. States with stricter gun laws mean more criminals have them. Limit peoples’ right to carry and you end up with the Wild West, like South Side Chicago.”
The increased demand for guns and the permits to carry them is a national trend according to Chad Baus of the Buckeye Firearms Association.
“The majority of sales and permits this month are due to the shooting in San Bernardino,” said Baus, who lives in Archbold. “Every time there’s an incident like that and the president talks about gun control we see a spike.
“He couldn’t get gun control through legislation and he’s talking about an executive order now,” Baus said. “Whether or not that can pass a court challenge remains to be seen but it gets people worked up and fearful.
“Euphemistically, he’s been termed ‘best gun salesman of the year.’ Kind of a sideways compliment but records bear it out. Background checks for guns sales and permits have increased every year of the last seven and this year it’s increased faster than the rest.”