By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department reported a spike in the number of citizens applying for gun permits and carrying concealed weapons. From Dec. 1, 2011 to June 13, 2012, the sheriff's department issued 88 gun permits as well as 213 concealed weapon permits. From Dec. 1, 2012 to June 6, 2013 the sheriff's department issued 492 gun permits and 364 concealed weapon permits.
Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight said the spike was due in part to the devastating massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 20 children and six educators dead. The massacre drew world-wide attention and started a nation-wide debate.
Today, six months after the shooting, the families of the Newtown shooting victims were in Washington to bring awareness to gun violence.
"Because of the increase in gun violence that gained national attention, our law abiding citizens are looking to protect themselves," Knight said. "There was a 58 percent increase in gun permits sold and 28 percent increase in concealed weapons permits. The increase has place a tremendous load on our staff as well as the SBI. This is not only happening in Edgecombe County, but in counties everywhere."
Due to the increase, retired N.C. Highway Patrolman, Keith Stone, is offering concealed weapons classes. The 30-year veteran officer believes that responsible adults should be allowed to carry guns.
"Guns don't cause problems, people cause problem," Stone said. "It's just like a car. A car is dangerous if a drunk or careless driver is behind the wheel. My desire is to teach people the safety of of using guns."
Stone said he has seen a tremendous growth in people carrying concealed weapons today compared to when he became a trooper in 1987. He contributed the growth to incidents like the Sandy Hook massacre and the most recent report that four people were shot dead inside a building in St. Louis on Thursday.
"They're doing it for protection," he said. "No matter how big a law enforcement department is, it can not always protect you. They don't know what's going on inside your house when they patrolling by it. People want to protect their family. Law enforcement can't do it all the time."
Stone gave another example of a stranded motorist who may be in need of carrying a concealed weapon. He said due to the large area that one patrolman a call in to the Highway Patrol could take up to 30 minutes before a patrolman to arrive.
For information concerning Stone's concealed weapons class call 885-6161.