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Long Lines for Concealed-Carry Permits

SCRANTON — In the midst of the gun violence in this country, it appears more and more people in our area want to protect themselves with guns. Permits for...
gun permit

SCRANTON -- In the midst of the gun violence in this country, it appears more and more people in our area want to protect themselves with guns.

Permits for concealed weapons are up and all the gun violence may be one reason why.

Lines to get licenses to carry concealed weapons get longer at sheriff's offices throughout the region after every mass shooting.

People say they feel safer if they can legally carry a gun almost anywhere, and as Wednesday's shootings in California prove, anywhere can be dangerous.

At noon, a line of men and women ready for their background checks formed at the Lackawanna County Sheriff's office in downtown Scranton.

"Sometimes I just don't feel safe."

Larry Hickernell of Scranton doesn't even own a firearm. But in just 10 minutes he applied for, and received, a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

"You never know who's going to do something, so you have to be prepared," said Hickernell.

"They're looking to make themselves feel more secure both at home and when they're on the streets," said Lackawanna County Sheriff's Deputy Earl Van Wert.

Van Wert knew this day after the San Bernadino shootings would be busy.

His office saw spikes in concealed-carry applications after the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings in 2012, and more recently, after last month's massacre in France.

"I would say we saw a 30 percent increase immediately, following the Paris attacks," said Van Wert.

Four counties in our area keep statistics on concealed-carry permits.

Roughly 14 to 15 percent of the population of Schuylkill, Lycoming, and Bradford Counties have a license to carry a concealed weapon.

In Susquehanna County, that number is 19.1 percent. That's almost one in five people with a concealed weapons permit.

"24-7, I carry every day, everywhere I go," said Joseph Rinaldi of Carbondale.

Rinaldi renewed his concealed-carry permit and like so many others, he believes it's a matter of doing his civic duty.

"I would hope that maybe my carrying my weapon might prevent many people from getting hurt. Possibly I could stop the shooter," Rinaldi said.

"It's nice to have thoughts and prayers for those people, but someone that could do something, could have possibly stopped it. And so maybe I could be that person," Hickernell added.

Not everyone with a concealed-carry permit is toting a firearm, or even owns one.

We spoke to a few people who are motivated to get the license by events such as the shooting in California, but they are still waiting to actually buy a gun and get training.