- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Over the past decade, the number of concealed-carry gun permits in Kentucky has risen from 11,000 issued in 2004 to 60,000 issued in 2013.

The Kentucky Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/1qClgL1) the increase has happened as Kentucky’s General Assembly has made it easier to own and carry guns. Law changes include allowing people to have concealed guns in their cars and elimination of a six-month residency requirement for a concealed-carry license.

Kentucky’s gun laws have ranked consistently among the country’s most lenient. The law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave the state an “F” rating.

But state lawmakers say loosening gun laws is popular among their constituents, some of whom are concerned about self-defense and others of whom are worried that the federal government will move to restrict gun ownership.

At Tony Wheatley’s concealed-carry class in Louisville, the 300 people who enrolled in the three months after the Newtown shootings equaled the total number of students in all of 2012.

“The biggest increase is in teachers, school administrators and bus drivers,” said Wheatley. “They are wanting to protect themselves.”

Dan Houston, a concealed-carry instructor in Florence, said people tell him, “‘We want to do it before our right is taken away from us.’”

But Pam Mangas, a mother of three from Lexington, joined the Kentucky chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense Across America after Newtown. Mangas said she recently saw someone carrying a gun at the barbershop where she took her son to get a haircut.

“I don’t know who that guy is, if he’s passed a background check to get guns,” she said.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com