Number of permits to carry increases in Clayton County
By Pat McTaggart
In 2003 a total of 32 Clayton County residents had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Today, that number has reached 1,245, or 7% of the county population. Sheriff Mike Tschirgi said a change in the permit to carry law in June 2011 helped push the increase.
“The law made it easier for people to get permits by taking the word 'may' out of rules for issuing a permit and replacing it with the word 'shall' when it comes to our decision to issue a permit to carry,” he said. “A person has to take a handgun safety course from a qualified instructor, which can also be done over the internet, pass a test, which can also be done over the internet, and then pass a background check. We would like to see individuals take the instruction in person from a qualified instructor, but either method can be used.”
Former military personnel have it even simpler. They can take their DD 214, which must have been issued for an honorable or general discharge, to the Sheriff’s Department and forgo the testing. Active duty military personnel must present a certificate of completion of basic training with a service record of successful completion of small arms training.
The fee for a permit to carry is $50 for five years. Tschirgi also encourages individuals to get a photo ID, which costs an additional $5 and can be obtained from the Sheriff’s Department. “Of the 1,245 people that have a permit to carry, I would say 99% also have a photo ID to go along with it,” he said.
Permits can be taken if there is a violation of laws that would initially refuse an individual a permit pending the outcome of sentencing. Sheriff Tschirgi also touched on carrying a weapon when dealing with law enforcement officials.
“If a person is stopped for a violation, we encourage an individual to advise the officer immediately that a weapon is in the vehicle and that they have a permit to carry,” he said. “The officer will then tell you what to do. If an officer sees a weapon in a vehicle and was not informed it was there, he or she may get a little more cautious with dealing with the individual.”
Overall, Sheriff Tschirgi said there had been no problems from the public due to the increase in permits to carry a concealed weapon. “Some people just say they would like a permit, but probably would never actually carry a weapon,” he said. “The gun problems that we have had have come from people without permits.”