PITTSBURGH — An estimated one in 15 people in Allegheny County could be legally armed, according to the sheriff’s department.
Nearly 7 percent of the county’s 1.2 million residents have active licenses to carry concealed handguns.
Experts told Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE that most people obtain licenses out of concern for personal safety, but don't carry weapons until they are trained.
"Overwhelmingly, the majority of the people that I see and that I encounter don't carry a firearm until they feel trained to do so," Sam Rosenberg, president of INPAX Academy of Personal Protection and Self Defense, told TribLIVE. "Most of the people who get permits aren't going to carry, and most of the ones who do carry are extremely cautious."
Allegheny County has 79,947 active concealed pistol permits, according to TribLIVE. By comparison, about 15 percent of Westmoreland County's 359,320 residents have active permits. Permits are valid for five years.
Demand for concealed carry permits surged at Western Pennsylvania sheriff's offices in the days after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Sheriffs in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties more than doubled their daily averages. Allegheny County has issued 15,982 permits this year; Westmoreland County, 9,573.
People must be 21 to apply for a gun permit in Pennsylvania. They must pass a state police background check; cannot have a conviction for any of 38 crimes, including murder, stalking and corruption of minors; and cannot have an open court case or a closed case in which they owe money.
Sheriffs can deny a permit if the applicant presents a danger to public safety; has a drug conviction; is mentally ill or has been committed to a mental institution; or has been in prison for more than a year. Other reasons: The person is not a Pennsylvania resident, does not have a permit from another state, is a fugitive, was dishonorably discharged from the military or is in the country illegally.
If a permit is denied through the state police background check, an applicant can appeal to the state police. If the sheriff denies a permit, applicants can appeal to Common Pleas Court.
The sheriff's office can revoke a permit if the person commits a crime. Westmoreland County has revoked 364 permits this year; no one has appealed a revocation in recent years. Allegheny County has denied 852 permits and revoked 97. One or two people appeal each week, Kraus said.
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