DEADWOOD Conceal carry permit applications are on the upswing in Lawrence County and across the state.
Lawrence County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Harmon said that in 2011 there were 620 concealed weapon permits issued, or, around 52 per month. In 2012, that number grew to 788 for the year, or 65 per month.
“So far this year, we’ve issued 83,” Harmon said.
The South Dakota Secretary of State’s Office has also seen a significant increase in the number of permits to carry a concealed pistol issued in recent months.
“The total number of active permits in South Dakota as of Jan. 11 is 65,754,” Secretary of State Jason Gant said.
Concealed pistol permit numbers have increased during the past three years. In 2011, the number of concealed pistol permits state-wide was 15,794. In 2012, the number climbed to 18,031. Through Jan. 11, that number is already 3,029.
Harmon feels that the sharp increase overall is due to the current political environment.
“I think it’s due to the fact that everyone is worried about the current legislation,” Harmon said.
What Harmon worries about, is the mental health issue surrounding concealed weapon permits.
“While we do a history check, that is only a Human Services check,” Harmon said. “If somebody is mentally ill and they apply for a permit, you may never know about it. There isn’t a repository – one place you can check for an applicant’s full mental health history. There is the Human Services check, but if they’ve gone somewhere else for treatment, there is no way of knowing. I think it’s a concern everywhere, but I don’t know what we can do to fix it.”
Gant distinguished the use of the gun that would warrant applying for a concealed pistol permit.
“An individual who wishes to carry a concealed pistol on or about his person or in a vehicle must obtain a permit to carry a concealed pistol,” Gant said. “A person does not need a permit to own a pistol, keep it in his/her home, business, or property, or visibly carry it.”
Those wishing to obtain a concealed pistol permit must apply in person at the local sheriff’s office. Carrying a concealed pistol without a permit is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by one year imprisonment in a county jail or a $1,000 fine, or both. Concealed pistol permit applicants must also meet the following requirements: Be 18 years-of age or older; have never pled guilty to, nolo contendere to, or been convicted of a felony or a crime of violence; not habitually in an intoxicated or drugged condition; have no history of violence; have not been found in the previous 10 years to be a “danger to others” or a “danger to self” or not currently adjudged mentally incompetent; have physically resided in and a resident of the county where the application is being made for at least 30 days immediately preceding the date of the application; have had no violations of firearms control, unlawful use of weapons, or controlled substances — marijuana, constituting a felony or misdemeanor in the five years preceding the date of application or is not currently charged under indictment or information for such an offense; a citizen of the United States; and not a fugitive from justice.
The sheriff will issue a temporary permit within five days from the date of application. Once the application is received in the Secretary of State’s Office a permanent permit will be issued and is valid for four years.
Reciprocity has been established with bordering states of North Dakota and Wyoming as well as 24 additional states.