More Mecklenburg County residents are arming themselves for protection, says the Charlotte Observer. Since 2005, there’s been a steady increase in applications to buy handguns, capped by a spike so far this year: a 38 percent jump in applications for the first three months compared to the same time a year ago. Officials can’t pinpoint a single reason for the rise. Experts say people turn to guns when they have a fear of real or perceived crime and have lost confidence in police. “I honestly don’t ever want to have to shoot anyone,” said Kathryn Reynolds, whose home was burglarized four times last year. “But I want to be able to protect myself.”
Last year, nearly 10,000 people in Mecklenburg County applied for permits to buy or carry a gun in public — a 10 percent increase over 2006. With every application approved, a person can buy up to three guns, though some people change their minds once they have the permit. If a person wants to carry a concealed gun in public, a separate permit and state-mandated course is required. More gun permits are being issued in the region. In Union County, the number getting handgun permits rose 22 percent from the previous year — a five-year high. “What’s happening now is that people who thought they weren’t vulnerable are feeling vulnerable,” said Larry Hyatt, a gun shop owner where participants in gun safety classes have more than doubled this year.