The number of concealed-carry permits issued in Ohio continues to soar, with the 63,481 new licenses approved in the first six months of this year, nearly equaling the total in all of 2012, which was a record year.
Attorney General Mike DeWine said 48,032 permits to carry concealed weapons were issued statewide from April 1 through June 30. That covered 32,074 new licenses and 15,958 renewals.
The total is a 27 percent jump over the first quarter this year, when 31,407 new licenses and 6,354 renewal licenses were issued, a total of 37,761.
The numbers are reported quarterly by county sheriffs to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission, a part of DeWine's office.
DeWine said the numbers from the first six months of this year eclipsed the total from any other year, except 2012, since the state began keeping track of concealed-carry licenses in 2004 after passage of a new law.
Gun-production companies have reported spikes in sales across the country, while the FBI has reported an increase in criminal-background checks, which are required for most gun purchases. Sporting-goods stores also have been selling out of ammunition.
The licenses have been especially popular in southwestern Ohio: Clermont County, east of Cincinnati, reported the most concealed-carry activity in the second quarter, with 2,444 new or renewed licenses, about 400 more than in the first three months of the year. Next were Montgomery (2,299) and Hamilton (1,982), both also in southwestern Ohio. Lake County, in northeastern Ohio, had 1,965, followed by Franklin (1,850) and Madison (1,570) in central Ohio. Cuyahoga County, home to Cleveland, reported 814.
Linda Walker, central Ohio chairwoman for Buckeye Firearms, said she was "excited to see the stats."
Walker said the turbulent political climate and the economic situation are prompting people to obtain weapons to protect themselves.
Toby Hoover of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence said her organization has the same concern that it has had all along: "Putting more guns on the street is not the answer."
Hoover said Ohio's surge is consistent with what has been happening all over the country as more people listen to the rhetoric from advocates who fear that their guns are going to be taken away.
By Alan Johnson. Dispatch assistant public affairs editor Michelle Everhart contributed to this story.