SIDNEY — Carry Conceal Weapon (CCW) permits are sharply on the rise in Shelby County after continued increased threats of violence world wide.
Through the end of June, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office has already issued 951 permits — which is significantly higher than all of 2015 with 658 issued, and nearly double the 497 issued in 2014. Since 2004, the Sheriff’s Office has issued 5,140 permits.
According to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s statistics, the number of permits issued in Ohio raised in 2015 to 71,589 compared with the 58,066 issued in 2014. And in the first quarter of 2016 alone, already 36,118 permits have been issued state-wide.
People who may never have considered owing a gun in the past have made the shift to buy one given the fact there were “18 workplace shootings in the United States in the last five years; averaging a little more than three a year,” said Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Raible in May during an active shooter seminar sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
“Actually, I never wanted (guns) in the house — or be around them, but decided to get my CCW because at the time Tony (her husband) was driving truck and was gone a lot, so it was just Tayler (her son) and me,” said Bridget Douglas, of Sidney, who obtained her permit in 2013. “I wanted some kind of protection and I felt it that was a good idea.”
Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart encourages citizens to obtain a CCW permit, and believes the increased number of permit holders is “without a doubt” due to increased violence.
“We have a responsibility, in my opinion, to help protect ourselves. We cannot depend on government to help us,” Lenhart said. “Every 17 seconds after an active shooter’s first shot is fired, someone dies or is wounded. Instant response is very important. Traditionally, those who are challenged will kill themselves or give up 99 percent of the time. But whether it is in the school setting or business setting, we need to be prepared.”
Douglas said before taking the training class she had never shot a firearm, but after she became “more educated,” she became “more comfortable,” and now “doesn’t leave her house without it.”
“I feel every law abiding citizen should have the right to carry a firearm. I like having my permit because I can carry concealed,” said Douglas. “Tony and I also have talked to Tayler about us having firearms in the house. I think it’s important to teach your children about firearm safety, if you have children in the house.”
Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA) Certified Instructor Josh Devins, who is a sergeant with the Sidney Police Department, recommends obtaining a gun vault to store a loaded gun, especially for people with children. Opening the vault requires the owner’s fingerprint. Devins teaches a free training class a class annually (independent from the Police Department or Sheriff’s Office) with fellow law officer, Deputy Dave Spicer, as an effort to give back to the community.
Devins said in class he talks about guns and children from a “two-prong approach.” If people want a gun for protection, it should be loaded and stored locked away. But also, at the child’s age level, you should talk to them about it and show your children the unloaded weapon. Devins believes this takes away the mystic and the need to sneak and see the gun.
“I cannot attribute (the rise in CCW permits) to any local violence. We didn’t used to see mass-shootings. People don’t want to be like a sheep. They want to be able to protect themselves. It comes down to personal responsibility — which is what we emphasis in class. … I think there is a need for this because the police are not responsible to protect. You are responsible for protect yourself,” said Devins.
Heather Hensley, of Troy, said she first bought a gun years ago because someone broke into her apartment and robbed her.
“I obtained my CCW so I would have the ability to protect myself and my family. I don’t want to be a victim. This world is becoming so crazy, and I don’t think it is getting any safer any time soon. If I was in a situation where I had my child with me and I heard gunshots coming our way, of course the first thing I would do is try to find an exit, but if I saw a shooter coming my way, I would be able to protect myself and my child,” said Hensley.
To obtain an Ohio CCW, one must be at least 21-years-old — and to quickly expedite the process, be an Ohio resident for at least 45 days and a resident of your home county for 30 days. The next basic steps are:
• Successfully completing an eight-hour training class given by an OPOTA or a National Riffle Association (NRA) certified instructor and earn a certificate of competency.
• Read the Ohio’s concealed carry laws in the Attorney General’s pamphlet (likely given in the training class), and make an appointment at the local Sheriff’s office to turn in required documentation. You may not walk-in to apply.
• Take the certificate of competency, a completed Ohio Concealed Handgun License application (which can be obtained at the local sheriff’s office or on the Attorney General’s website), and a passport-sized color photo taken within 30 days of the application date to the local sheriff’s office.
• Pass a criminal background check and mental competency check. Be fingerprinted; attest you have read the Ohio concealed carry laws; and pay the non-refundable fee of $67 for Ohio residents of five years or more, and $91 if less than five years.
The permit is valid for five years and can take up to 45 days to be approved.
Lenhart said if you have lived in Ohio for five years, his office will usually issue Shelby County — or neighboring county — citizens their permit within a few days. He said he has issued emergency CCWs in incidences for those in serious threat of harm; often once they pass the background check, it can be issued the same day.
“’There is nothing more important that I should do than protect the 10,000 kids that live in our county and in the schools,’” Lenhart recalled saying when asked at a news conference why he feels law enforcement should be in the schools, and is in support of more citizens obtaining a CCW. “If can you think of anything more important than to try and protect those kids, I’d like to know.”
A detailed checklist list for obtaining an Ohio CCW permit can be found on the Buckeye Firearms Association’s website at www.buckeyefirearms.org. For more information, contact the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office at 937-498-1111.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.