What has caused the spike in applications for gun permits in Allegheny County?By John Shumway

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The mass shooting in Boulder has renewed the debate over guns in our country. It comes on the heels of the biggest single-day for new gun permits ever in Allegheny County.

“Certainly the demand is extremely high,” Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus in the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office said.

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On Saturday, the sheriff’s office took the ability to get a permit to the Forward Township Municipal Building for a one-day event.

People stood in line for up to six hours to get a permit to carry a gun.

“That was a record day for us we issued 647 firearms licenses to carry,” Chief Deputy Kraus said.

The reasons were as varied as the crowd.

“I came out so I could carry my gun,” said one woman, “Because I no longer trust this country and the people who are in it.”

Another woman added, “We are feeling like we need to be able to protect ourselves.”

Kraus doesn’t know how much of the demand is driven by politics.

“Looking back in the past we’ve had similar spikes when there’s a, you know, transition of power in the presidential office,” he said.

The sheriff’s office averages 150 permits each day at their permit office in the Allegheny County Courthouse, and Kraus says they plan to continue the remote registration pop-up locations at a rate of once a month.

Everyone who comes for a permit has to fill out an application, pay $20, and then wait for the computer check.

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“We send it to the Pennsylvania State Police, where they run it through their database, and as long as they don’t have any disqualifiers relating to criminal history or mental health, they’ll issue the permit,” he explained

He says the entire process if the person is approved, takes about five minutes.

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Some gun concerned advocates say the sheriff’s office is making it too easy to put more guns on the street.

“We do hear that but I mean, that’s part of our function at the sheriff’s office,” he said. “You know, under the Second Amendment people that are qualified have the right to carry a concealed firearm or open carry.”

With a long career in law enforcement Kraus is sensitive to situations like what happened in Boulder.

“Certainly we as law enforcement have concerns about that,” he said. “You can’t always identify mental health, you can’t get inside of everybody’s thought process or mental state.”

But he says that doesn’t change the responsibility of the office to provide the ability for those who qualify to get a permit.

“A lot of people don’t even own guns,” he said. “They don’t own guns, they just want to get a gun license, you know, they think it’s better to have it not need it than need it not have it.”

Kraus says they are exploring several locations for their next remote permit one-day pop-up location.

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On the list being considered, Monroeville, North Fayette, and somewhere in the Allegheny River Valley.