WINCHESTER,VA - In the last few months, guns have been the hot-button issue across the country. In Virginia concealed weapon permits are the target.
"We, probably in the next week, will sign about 10, 10 or 12," says Terry Whittle, Clerk with Winchester Circuit Court.
Local counties have seen dramatic increases in permits in comparison to previous years. Many say it's in response to the Sandy Hook shooting.
"A lot of them recently, I think, may have been a reaction to a number of current events, one being the Newtown Connecticut shooting," says Whittle.
In Frederick County, court clerks say applications for concealed handgun permits more than tripled over the last year.
In December 14, 2011 to January 6, 2012 the county reported 44 concealed weapons applications. From December 14, 2012 to January 6, 2013 they had recorded 145 applications. Winchester has also seen an increase.
"Since December 14th, we've had 26 applications filed for concealed handgun permits and some of those are renewals," says Whittle.
Managers at the Stonewall Arms gun store say in the past few weeks gun sales have skyrocketed. They say everything from pistols to rifles to shotguns are flying off the shelves.
"I just think that people are just trying to beat the deadline," says Gary Pope, who was visiting the store. "I think they want to get their permits and guns that they want to have before legislation is passed that permits them from doing it."
In Virginia, concealed handgun permits have to be granted through the local court system, and applicants must show some gun proficiency.
"We have those forms on hand here in our office," Whittle says. "If they fill out those applications and we send a copy to the police station and then send a copy to the Commonwealth Attorney."
The police check the criminal history for any felonies, and if all is clear, a permit can be ready within a week. It's a quick turn-around that's meeting an explosive demand.