Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said this week that more than 158,000 concealed carry licenses were issued or renewed in Ohio in 2016, the largest number since licenses were first issued in 2004.
The spike was reflected in Highland County, where 1,314 new concealed carry licenses were issued, and 390 were renewed, according to statistics from DeWine’s office. The previous year, 824 new licenses were issued in Highland County, with 397 renewed. In Ohio, concealed carry licenses must be renewed every five years.
The state also saw new highs in 2016 for licenses suspended after arrests or certain criminal charges were leveled, along with licenses revoked and license applications denied. In Highland County last year, 14 licenses were suspended, five were revoked and nine were denied.
County sheriffs are responsible for issuing concealed carry licenses, and Highland County Sheriff Donnie Barrera said Thursday that issuing licenses keeps his office busy.
Barrera said there always seems to be a spike in the number of individuals seeking licenses during presidential election years, when people fear that certain election outcomes might result in gun rights being curtailed.
Barrera said his office is busy with concealed carry licenses in part because people come to Highland County from neighboring counties due to his office’s quick turnaround of issuing licenses.
Barrera said the law allows residents of adjacent counties like Clinton, Fayette, Ross, Pike, Adams and Brown to cross county lines to obtain licenses, and many residents of those counties come to Highland County for what is usually a two-day turnaround in receiving their licenses from his office, after training and education certifications have been met.
The sheriff said two front window deputies handle concealed carry licensing. Some counties require appointments and have longer turnaround times, but his office welcomes walk-ins from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, he said.
Barrera’s contention seems backed up by the statistics. Last year, Clinton County issued only 723 new licenses and 203 renewals. Ross County issued just 613 new licenses and 310 renewals. Fayette County issued just 322 new licenses and 58 renewals. Pike County issued 363 new licenses and 159 renewals. Brown County issued 606 new licenses and 166 renewals. And Adams County issued just 362 new licenses and 77 renewals.
According to statistics reported to DeWine’s office and shared in a press release, county sheriffs across Ohio issued 117,953 new licenses and 40,982 renewal licenses in 2016, for a total of 158,982 licenses, “the largest in a single year since licenses were first issued in 2004.”
“The previous record for new licenses issued and total licenses issued was in 2013, when 96,972 new licenses and 145,342 total licenses were issued. The record for renewal licenses was in 2014 when 52,146 licenses were renewed,” according to the release.
Each sheriff must report concealed handgun license statistics quarterly to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, a division of the attorney general’s office.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email @abernathygary.com.