MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The number of Georgians applying for a weapons carry license is skyrocketing.
"I'm not a gun nut, but I like having the security knowing that I can carry one if I want to," gun owner and permit holder Stan Pantell said.
Pantell applied for his Georgia weapons carry license three years ago. Now hundreds of people in Middle Georgia are doing the same thing.
"We normally process about 35 to 40 weapons carry licenses per month," Baldwin County Probate Judge Todd Blackwell said.
But those number are getting larger. In Middle Georgia, some counties have seen double or triple the amount of residents applying for permits.
"In December we processed 84. In January, we processed 164 and through Friday last week, which is just one week into the month, we have processed 34 permits," Blackwell said. "It's a bit surprising. We've seen increases through the years for different things but never to this level."
Other counties across Middle Georgia are seeing huge increases in weapons carry license applications. In Laurens County, the probate court usually issues 30 to 50 licenses per month. Since the beginning of the year, 167 people applied for gun permits. Court officials say 115 people applied for the license in January compared to 41 people who applied January 2012.
In Houston County, an average of 100 to 200 people apply for gun permits per month. In December 2012, that number jumped to 563 applications and in January 2013, 748 people applied for the license.
In Monroe County, court officials process an average of 30 to 50 applications per month. In December 2012, the probate court handled just over 100 applications and the number increased to 124 in January 2013.
Bibb County Probate Clerk of Court Sherri Landford was not available Monday for license application numbers.
Blackwell believes the recent tragedy in Connecticut and the gun debate in Washington are to blame for these high numbers.
"I think it will continue as long as the discussion is going on in Congress about possible gun controls and what they may be," Blackwell said. "I think it makes people nervous on what the laws may change to and I think as long as its going on we'll continue to maintain this increase."
It's those feelings that have Georgians up in arms.
"Its really an emotional reaction, I think, to a lot of the politics that are swirling around Washington and scaring people," Pentall said.
Applicants interested in getting a weapons carry license must go to their local probate court to fill out paperwork. Applicants are fingerprinted and undergo a background check. It usually takes two to three weeks before you receive your permit.