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Armstrong sheriff's office swamped with gun application requests

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Armstrong County Chief Deputy Sheriff Frankie Shumaker was on hold with the state’s background check center for more than 30 minutes for a permit-to-carry application at the Armstrong County Sheriff Department's office in the courthouse on Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. The county processed more than 400 new and renewal applications for gun permits in December. MITCH FRYER | LEADER TIMES

Armstrong County Chief Deputy Sheriff Frankie Shumaker couldn't get through to the state's background check center in Harrisburg for a permit-to-carry application on a day last week.

All the operators were busy, he said.

When Shumaker did reach the center the next day, he was told there were 8,000 calls for gun permits the day before.

“There were 67 county sheriff departments and numerous gun stores all over the state calling the same place at the same time,” said Shumaker, who in December found himself holding on the phone just about every time he called for a gun permit check. “They got overwhelmed.”

Monday was no exception. Shumaker was on hold for more than half an hour for a background check.

County Sheriff Larry Crawford said his office typically processes about 250 renewal and new permits for gun owners a month. In December that number jumped drastically to more than 400, he said.

“We're getting swamped here with people getting guns and permits,” said Crawford.

“Are people becoming more cautious?” Crawford wondered. “It (acts of violence such as the school shootings in Connecticut) seems to be getting closer to home to them.”

Crawford cautioned that even if you have a permit for a gun, it doesn't give you the right to break the law.

“I believe in the Second Amendment — I am not for gun control — but I am for controlling who has guns,” Crawford said. “Making sure they don't get in the wrong hands.”

Armstrong has a women's handgun safety class that has instructed about 50 gun owners a year for the past 12 years, according to Crawford.

“For families that own guns, handgun safety begins at home,” Crawford added. “Safely secure them.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or mfryer@tribweb.com.

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