CINCINNATI – Fearing what Sheriff Jim Neil called an “uptick” in crime, more residents are applying for concealed-carry weapon licenses in Hamilton County and surrounding counties in southwest Ohio.
“Criminals are opportunists…Law enforcement is not present when these tragedies occur,” Neil said.
The demand for CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) permits is turning Hamilton County deputies into classroom teachers.They’ve been offering more concealed-carry classes since Neil became sheriff three years ago.
Brenda Langdon was among the students at a recent class put on by the sheriff’s office.
“I want to be able to do my own public safety for myself,” she said.
Langdon was among nearly 3,600 people in Hamilton County who received CCW licenses last year. That was the largest number of permits in southwestern Ohio and the fourth-most in the state.
Over the past five years, Hamilton County has issued more than 14,000 CCW licenses.
That trend is worrying for advocates like Jennifer Thorne with the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
“We’re talking about going into public with something that can be very deadly very quickly,” she said.
Thorne said the solution to stop violence should come from law enforcement and elected officials changing the culture of violence, not from the holster of a CCW permit holder.
Concealed-carry permits aren’t for everyone. Hamilton County denies the second-largest number of permits in the state and gun owners need a competency certification to obtain a CCW license.
Still, the number of first-time gun owners is growing. That’s part of the reason deputies are holding the classes, where instructors can help correct mistakes.
Detective Erik Pfaffl serves as an instructor. He said that concealed-carry is not for everyone, but for those who do it, it’s important to keep practicing even after obtaining certification.
“You need to know how to clear these jams, you need to know how to perform under high stressful situations,” Pfaffl said.
It seems that many of those with CCW permits are taking Pfaffl’s advice. The number of people taking the classes was up 47 percent last year compared to 2014.
“If your training stops today and you need to use your weapon five years from now...you will most likely fail,” he said.