Number of gun permit applications increased nearly 50 percent from 2011

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PITTSBURGH —

Thousands of people in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties are applying for gun permits as lawmakers on Capitol Hill are calling for a national discussion on gun control.

In Allegheny County you need a permit to carry a concealed pistol, and Channel 11’s Alan Jennings reported that people are flocking in record numbers to apply for a permit.

“We’ve never seen such an increase as we saw Monday with 130 people here. Some were turned away because the lines were so long,” Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen said.

According to Mullen, Allegheny County awarded pistol permits to 12,472 people in 2011. So far in 2012, Allegheny County has issued 17,941 permits, a 44-percent increase from last year.

Donna White said the Connecticut school shooting was her motivation to protect her 10-year-old daughter.

“He was running around killing kids. You’re just not safe at school anymore, and if you’re not safe at school, then where are you safe?” White said. “It’s either them or me, and it’s going to be them.”

Chris Mort told Jennings that he’s worried a ban on carrying a pistol will be implemented following the school shooting.

“I decided to get a permit now, while I still can. It’s just a crazy world we’re living in,” Mort said.

Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties all reported an increase in permit applications Monday, as well as a large increase in 2012 over 2011.

Some who have supported the National Rifle Association said all options should be on the table, and the Senate has already announced gun control hearings early next year.

A Washington post poll found 54 percent favor tougher laws, but seven in 10 are against a ban on handguns.

The poll also found that 47 percent of Americans have a gun on their property.

The ATF said there are four times as many gun dealers as grocery stores in the U.S., and so far this year the FBI has done almost 17 million background checks on gun buyers.

The NRA released the following statement Tuesday: "The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.

"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.

"The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

"The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.

"Details will be released to the media at the appropriate time."