- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - Stanley Hill traveled from Kendrick in his pickup truck, down the grade into the Clearwater drainage and across the Snake River into Asotin County this week for one reason.

The 71-year-old Navy veteran has wanted to purchase a concealed carry firearms permit for quite a while, he said, so he drove the 35 miles to the Asotin County Sheriff’s Office to fill out an application.

He wasn’t the only one. In the past four months, the sheriff’s office has logged twice the number of concealed carry permit applications than a year ago in the same time frame, said Sgt. Lori Leavitt, who along with Sgt. Tammy Leavitt, is tasked with fingerprinting an increasing number of applicants and handling paperwork. Last year, 125 people filed for a permit in the final third of the year, compared to 266 so far this year, Leavitt said.

A common denominator among many applicants, the sergeants said, is the recent spate of shootings, such as this month’s San Bernardino, California mass shooting in which 14 people were killed, and a November shooting in Colorado Springs in which three people died.

That’s when the permit purchases really took off.

“It was pretty standard until the last shooting,” Tammy Leavitt said. “Probably the last two shootings.”

A lot of Idahoans are drawn to Washington permits because they are recognized by Idaho and other states, but the reverse isn’t true.

“If you get one in Washington, you have more freedom with it,” Hill said. “You can go more places with it.”

Hill’s reason for buying a permit is similar to that of a lot of other people.

“I’ve been thinking about getting one for a long time,” Hill said. “With the recent goings-on and everything else, I felt more compelled.”

Hill was among a trickle of people to show up Thursday morning to be fingerprinted and turn over $50.75 for the permit that is good for five years. Renewals cost $32.

Lori Leavitt usually has fewer than 10 permits received each week from applicants that she collects to send off to the state.

“I probably have a stack of 30 in there now,” she said.

Although annual numbers are about the same so far, with 887 permits sold last year in Asotin County compared to 885 so far this year, the recent jump in concealed carry applications mirrors a spike in local firearm transfers. The applications are required in Washington when a gun changes hands.

“It’s been crazy,” Tammy Leavitt said. “I used to do one or two a day. I’ve done 15 already today.”

Sheriff John Hilderbrand frequently gets calls from constituents asking him to swing by their homes with a concealed carry permit. So, he does. He fields the calls after hours, as well. It is no longer an anomaly.

“There’s a noticeable increase,” he said. “People are pretty well concerned.”

The increasing number of concealed carry permits being issued doesn’t bother him - only a few get turned down for reasons that may include having prior felony or domestic abuse convictions.

“What concerns me is the fear instilled in people,” Hilderbrand said. “It’s a concern because of their lack of confidence in law enforcement.”

Hill said he will probably end up purchasing another handgun when he is approved for the concealed carry permit. Something, maybe, that can fit in his glove box.

“For me, with all the gun laws they are trying to implement, now is the time to buy a firearm,” Hill said.

Two more people were in line to be fingerprinted in the lobby of the sheriff’s office, where Lori Leavitt turned a woman’s finger on the electronic machine that showed the applicant’s fingerprints on a screen before they were printed. Once the application is approved by the state, the permit is returned to the sheriff’s office, which sends it to the permit holder. The county gets about 30 cents on the dollar for each application the department sends in, she said. The job has been keeping the two sergeants in the small department busy.

“You adapt,” she said.

___

Information from: Lewiston Tribune, https://www.lmtribune.com

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