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Sheriff's office enables registration in Murrysville for gun permits

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 7:39 p.m.
(c) 2013 Lillian DeDomenic
The Westmoreland County Sheriff's Department processing gun permits last week at the Murrysville Municipal Building. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Murrysville Star

Kurt Landsberg had considered applying for a permit to carry a concealed weapon for a while.

But he thought the process — driving to Greensburg, finding parking and waiting at the courthouse — was a hassle.

When Landsberg and his wife, Anita, found out about a program that would enable them to apply for a gun permit minutes away from home at the Murrysville municipal building, they changed their minds.

“It was a lot nicer to have the choice to come here,” Landsberg said. “Particularly with the discussion on gun control, I don't want to lose my right to bear arms before I even got a permit. It's great because it's local.”

The Landsbergs took advantage of a program through the Westmoreland County Sheriff's Office that offers satellite options for those seeking a gun permit. Each month, the office sends deputies to six different locations throughout the county to process concealed-carry permits.

“It was started by the previous administration and when I took office, it's something that I've continued and expanded on,” Sheriff Jon Held said. “It's been very popular. On many days, our satellite program, issues more permits than we do in the courthouse.”

In 2011 — the year before Held took office — 8,226 permits were issued. In 2012, about 12,600 were issued. As of Monday, 1,350 concealed-carry permits were issued in Westmoreland County this year.

Held attributes the increased interest in obtaining concealed-carry permits to recent mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo, combined with the national dialog on tightening gun control laws.

“There's a general concern in Westmoreland County, and even further out, about proposed legislation and gun control and the possibility of losing second amendment rights,” Held said.

“I'm fully in support of the second amendment and will do everything I can do to prevent the infringement of that right.”

Held's office offers satellite permit hours each month in Latrobe, Murrysville, New Kensington, North Huntington and Scottdale.

The office alternates each month between satellite locations in Rostraver and West Newton. Held said he tries to spread out the locations because of the size of Westmoreland County. He counts Murrysville as one of the most popular satellite locations.

To obtain a concealed-carry permit, Westmoreland County residents must fill out an application and appear in person at the county courthouse or a satellite location with a current drivers license, payment of $20 and two non-family personal references. Held said wait time for permits at the courthouse can exceed one hour.

In Murrysville last week, the Landsbergs waited about 40 minutes. It was well worth the time, Kurt Landsberg said.

“I like that it's local,” he said. “It's a wonderful program.”

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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