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PA – SELF-PROTECTION – Allegheny County sees ‘unprecedented’ spike in demand to carry concealed guns

POST GAZETTE.COM November 10, 2020 – Applications in Allegheny County for licenses to carry concealed guns have hit “unprecedented” levels, according to a top official at the sheriff’s office.

Several factors have driven the increase, including the advent of COVID-19, pockets of civil unrest across the country and the uncertainty surrounding the presidential election and the transfer of power at the White House.

“Currently, the demand for applications to carry a concealed firearm is unprecedented,” Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus said Tuesday. “There’s been an extreme spike in demand for the licenses. It all started with COVID.”

Prior to Pennsylvania’s aggressive response to the pandemic in March, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office would typically process roughly 40 to 80 applications per day. In the wake of shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, the office was closed for several weeks and reopened by appointment only, with applicants being scheduled for every 15 minutes. Slowly but surely, with masking and social distancing in place, the schedule was modified to accommodate appointments every five minutes. Daily applications processed by appointment rose until they hovered around 80. “We had months that would just book up within hours,” Chief Deputy Kraus said.

Currently, you can’t get an appointment until April.

On Oct. 21, to address the intense demand, the office launched a pilot program and opened to walk-in appointments from 8 a.m. to noon five days a week. Applications soared.

For the past several weeks, the office has processed between 250 and 300 applications per day with lines extending from the ground-floor firearms office in the Allegheny County Courthouse’s courtyard out to the street and some days wrapping three-quarters of the way around the block.

“The lines of people have been extremely long,” Chief Deputy Kraus said. “People are waiting two to three hours standing in line to get a gun license.”

Those interested in being able to carry a concealed firearm on their body or in their vehicle must fill out an application that asks for basic personal information, including occupation and the reason for seeking a license. The possible answers are: self-defense, employment, hunting/fishing, target shooting, gun collecting and other.

While the sheriff’s office does not analyze or disclose data collected from information submitted on the applications and thus cannot provide any demographic breakdown for age, race, gender or occupation of applicants, Chief Deputy Kraus said many people have checked the self-defense box.  [full article]

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