WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) – Local applications for gun permits have surged since the Paris attacks.
It seems that within minutes of the initial attacks in Paris, many in the United States became extremely concerned for their own safety.
The Allegheny County sheriff's office typically handles around 50 applications per day. Monday, it had 107 applications, and there were 121 applications Tuesday. Butler County has seen more than 100 gun permit applications between Monday and Tuesday. It normally gets around 30 per day. Beaver County has seen more than double its daily average since last Friday, and they're up 50 percent in Westmoreland County since Friday.
Down in the basement of the Westmoreland County Courthouse is a small office that's always buzzing with activity. This is where law-abiding citizens come to get their concealed carry permits for firearms.
"I've actually gotten a lot of phone calls on the subject of the people's right to bear arms and carry," Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held said.
But in the last few days, business has picked up in a big way.
"Permit applications are up 50 percent since last week," Held said.
And the sheriff admits there's likely a correlation between more permits and what happened in Paris.
"I think it's a motivating factor," he said. "Any time we have a large terrorist attack or a mass shooting."
Jean Hacha filled out the paperwork for her concealed carry permit Wednesday.
"I hope I never have to use this," she said. "But at least I'll have it if the time comes."
Her reason isn't fear of ISIS or other terrorist groups, but general self-defense.
But regarding the events in Paris, she said, "I think that can happen anywhere in any community, our community. It's scary."
Jean says she's undergone extensive firearms training, building to getting a gun permit… Something the sheriff hopes all consider, whether terrorists are a concern or not.
"We have the right to bear arms and protect ourselves, but we also have the responsibility to do so safely and learn how to operate safely, and learn when to use and not to use these firearms," Held said.
But it must be emphasized that while it is a possibility you may be involved in some type of terrorist attack and have to defend yourself, the probability of it happening is probably very small.
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