More Delawareans seeking personal protection

 

DOVER — Many more Delawareans are carrying legally concealed deadly weapons these days.

That’s a fact.

Concealed carry permits jumped 56 percent from 2014 to 2015.

What’s not so clear, however, is how or if those weapons are ever used.

Just having a firearm in case of a dangerous confrontation is peace of mind, though.

The Dover Police Department encounters people carrying legally concealed deadly weapons, but can’t remember a time when one was discharged.

There have been no investigations into how a legally concealed weapon was handled during an incident, according to Dover police.

The Delaware Department of Justice doesn’t have researchable data on permitted concealed deadly weapons involved in any matters, and do not remember any issues either.

A survey of some Justice prosecutors evoked no specific circumstances, spokesman Carl Kanefsky said.

“We don’t track cases in a way we could search for that, and no one had any anecdotal recollections,” Mr. Kanefsky said.

Still, Delawareans are requesting concealed carry permits in rapidly increasing numbers.

In December 2015, the state of Delaware received 348 concealed carry applications, more than double the 155 from the previous December.

There were 2,614 permit applications in 2015 as opposed to 1,674 in 2014. Each month last year had more applications that the previous year.

The number of permit applications beyond the past two years were not readily available through state records.

Smyrna Sporting Goods owner Brian Brown sees the folks who are purchasing weapons.

The business has made 23,000 sales in 11 years, he said.

“There’s been a huge influx of people looking for guns to purchase that would suit them for protection,” he said.

Times have changed, he said.

“It seems like years ago you had to have a specific reason to want to conceal a gun, like you were working late and in a dark place or carrying money from a business,” he said. “Now it seems like people are getting them for basic personal protection.”

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There were 2,614 permit applications in 2015 as opposed to 1,674 in 2014. Each month last year had more applications that the previous year. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

Also, Mr. Brown believes gun sales in general have risen due to concerns the federal government may legislate stricter laws in the future, and perhaps infringe on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, according to some.

Issues surrounding carrying a concealed deadly weapon are nationwide, with organizations devoted to promoting their cause, both pro and con. Only Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Vermont and Wyoming currently do not require permits of some sort.

According to a Crime Prevention Research Center report in July 2014, 11,113,013 Americans held concealed carry permits, or 4.8 percent of the total population. Delaware had 5,000 active permits as of Dec. 31, 2011, according to the General Accounting Office, and ranked No. 42 among states with .8 percent of the adult population with permits.

For personal protection

Don St. Jean, who teaches basic a pistol course and carries a legally concealed firearm, believes personal protection and home defense are paramount, and pointed to two people who were killed in a Hartly carjacking. Threats still exist in the western Kent County area where he resides, he said.

When it comes to using a concealed firearm, Mr. St. Jean said, “No. I have not heard of any” cases of a discharge.

Mr. St. Jean did say a truck driver he taught within the last two to three years once was involved in a shootout with two would-be robbers in Texas or Oklahoma after being confronted in a parking lot. Police happened to be in the area as well, and took part in the shootout that left both suspects dead. One of the deaths was attributed to Mr. St. Jean’s former student, he said.

According to Concealed Carry Magazine executive director Kevin Michalowski, however, some of the 115,000 United States Concealed Carry Association members have dealt with criminal or civil charges after incidents.

“There have been countless cases where responsible Americans have lost their freedom and all their possessions

CONCEALED CARRY LAW Here are parts of Delaware Code regarding carrying a concealed deadly weapon legally: A person of full age and good moral character desiring to be licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon for personal protection or the protection of the person’s property may be licensed to do so when the following conditions have been strictly complied with, among other factors: • The person shall make application therefor in writing and file the same with the Prothonotary of the proper county, at least 15 days before the then next term of the Superior Court, clearly stating that the person is of full age and that the person is desirous of being licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon for personal protection or protection of the person’s property, or both, and also stating the person’s residence and occupation. The person shall submit together with such application all information necessary to conduct a criminal history background check. The Superior Court may conduct a criminal history background check pursuant to the procedures set forth in Chapter 85 of Title 11 for the purposes of licensing any person pursuant to this section. • At the same time the person shall file, with the Prothonotary, a certificate of 5 respectable citizens of the county in which the applicant resides at the time of filing the application. The certificate shall clearly state that the applicant is a person of full age, sobriety and good moral character, that the applicant bears a good reputation for peace and good order in the community in which the applicant resides, and that the carrying of a concealed deadly weapon by the applicant is necessary for the protection of the applicant or the applicant’s property, or both. The certificate shall be signed with the proper signatures and in the proper handwriting of each such respectable citizen. • Prior to the issuance of an initial license the person shall also file with the Prothonotary a notarized certificate signed by an instructor or authorized representative of a sponsoring agency, school, organization or institution certifying that the applicant: (i) has completed a firearms training course which contains at least the below-described minimum elements; and (ii) is sponsored by a federal, state, county or municipal law enforcement agency, a college, a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training, or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training. • At the time the application is filed, the applicant shall pay a fee of $65 to the Prothonotary issuing the same. • The license issued upon initial application shall be valid for 3 years. On or before the date of expiration of such initial license, the licensee, without further application, may renew the same for the further period of 5 years upon payment to the Prothonotary of a fee of $65 and filing an affidavit ... • The Court may or may not, in its discretion, approve any application, and in order to satisfy the Judges thereof fully in regard to the propriety of approving the same, may receive remonstrances and hear evidence and arguments for and against the same, and establish general rules for that purpose. • The provisions of this section do not apply to the carrying of the usual weapon by the police or other peace officers. • Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code to the contrary, the State of Delaware shall give full faith and credit and shall otherwise honor and give full force and effect to all licenses/permits issued to the citizens of other states where those issuing states also give full faith and credit and otherwise honor the licenses issued by the State of Delaware pursuant to this section ...

CONCEALED CARRY LAW
Here are parts of Delaware Code regarding carrying a concealed deadly weapon legally:
A person of full age and good moral character desiring to be licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon for personal protection or the protection of the person’s property may be licensed to do so when the following conditions have been strictly complied with, among other factors:
• The person shall make application therefor in writing and file the same with the Prothonotary of the proper county, at least 15 days before the then next term of the Superior Court, clearly stating that the person is of full age and that the person is desirous of being licensed to carry a concealed deadly weapon for personal protection or protection of the person’s property, or both, and also stating the person’s residence and occupation. The person shall submit together with such application all information necessary to conduct a criminal history background check. The Superior Court may conduct a criminal history background check pursuant to the procedures set forth in Chapter 85 of Title 11 for the purposes of licensing any person pursuant to this section.
• At the same time the person shall file, with the Prothonotary, a certificate of 5 respectable citizens of the county in which the applicant resides at the time of filing the application. The certificate shall clearly state that the applicant is a person of full age, sobriety and good moral character, that the applicant bears a good reputation for peace and good order in the community in which the applicant resides, and that the carrying of a concealed deadly weapon by the applicant is necessary for the protection of the applicant or the applicant’s property, or both. The certificate shall be signed with the proper signatures and in the proper handwriting of each such respectable citizen.
• Prior to the issuance of an initial license the person shall also file with the Prothonotary a notarized certificate signed by an instructor or authorized representative of a sponsoring agency, school, organization or institution certifying that the applicant: (i) has completed a firearms training course which contains at least the below-described minimum elements; and (ii) is sponsored by a federal, state, county or municipal law enforcement agency, a college, a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training, or a firearms training school with instructors certified by a nationally recognized organization that customarily offers firearms training.
• At the time the application is filed, the applicant shall pay a fee of $65 to the Prothonotary issuing the same.
• The license issued upon initial application shall be valid for 3 years. On or before the date of expiration of such initial license, the licensee, without further application, may renew the same for the further period of 5 years upon payment to the Prothonotary of a fee of $65 and filing an affidavit …
• The Court may or may not, in its discretion, approve any application, and in order to satisfy the Judges thereof fully in regard to the propriety of approving the same, may receive remonstrances and hear evidence and arguments for and against the same, and establish general rules for that purpose.
• The provisions of this section do not apply to the carrying of the usual weapon by the police or other peace officers.
• Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code to the contrary, the State of Delaware shall give full faith and credit and shall otherwise honor and give full force and effect to all licenses/permits issued to the citizens of other states where those issuing states also give full faith and credit and otherwise honor the licenses issued by the State of Delaware pursuant to this section …

simply because they acted in self-defense and didn’t have proper legal representation,” Mr. Michalowski said.

“It is very expensive to do the right thing in this country. Civil law suits against honest citizens who engage in self-defense are all too common. Vindictive prosecution by anti-gun district attorneys is common. …

“A deadly force encounter is the worst moment of a person’s life. The legal aftermath can drag on for years. We help members every month.”

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, however, takes a different stance on its website, citing specific studies and opining that:

“Claims that guns are used defensively millions times every year have also been widely discredited. Even when a gun is used in self-defense, which is rare, the research shows that it is no more likely to reduce a person’s chance of being injured during a crime than various other forms of protective action.

“One study suggests that carrying a firearm may actually increase a victim’s risk of firearm injury during the commission of a crime.”

Over the years, Mr. St. Jean said he’s trained ministers and their wives to conceal firearms, especially during Sunday church services.

“I tell them there’s nothing in the Bible that says you can’t protect your flock,” he said.

Before being permitted for a concealed carry, Delawareans must by law take a course from an approved source covering extensive subject matter.

The cost of applying for a concealed carry is $65, good for three years and then renewable for five years.

Who is concealing?

Mr. Brown believes most gun purchases for concealment are made by those in their 40s or older and “there aren’t a lot of older people.”

“They’re just worried about this home invasion, break-in thing and not being able to protect themselves just by fighting,” Mr. Brown said.

Folks in rural homes feel vulnerable, Mr. Brown believes, and the home invasions are “mainly these kids breaking in to steal something to buy drugs. They’ll take laptops and anything they can quickly sell.”

Whether the threat is real or imagined, more Delawareans are feeling threatened.

“I think it’s all just the hype,” Mr. Brown said. “Most people see it and hear about it that their friend was broken into.”

Typically, Mr. Brown said, firearms destined for protection purposes are the size of the palm of the hand, small .380 caliber Smith and Wesson and Walther models that can fit into a pocket.

“They’re extremely small and light, but they pack a little wallop,” he said.

There’s an intimidation factor involved with even the hint of a weapon in possession, Mr. Brown said.

“If you let them know you have a gone, once they realize that they’ll run away quickly,” he said.

When pulling a gun, Mr. St. Jean said “you must be prepared to shoot because there’s a good chance that whoever else is involved will use his.”

If possible, Mr. St. Jean advised taking time to consider other options when faced with a troubling situation.

“You have opened yourself up to a whole lot of liability, a whole lot of risk, and you need to be aware of that,” he said.

In his pistol course, Mr. St. Jean stresses the importance of storing weapons when not carried, understanding use of force guidelines, and keeping the firearms out of children’s reach.

Meeting the demand

To meet the demands of permit requests, the Department of Justice has two investigators tasked with working on applications for license to carry concealed deadly weapons. Four other staffers, including a deputy attorney general, also spend some time processing and reviewing applications eventually returned to Superior Court.

Once sent to Superior Court, the resident judge of each county has the final review of the application, paperwork and Department of Justice position “prior to rendering a decision on the application,” Chief Staff Attorney Linda Carmichael said.

There is no data regarding the frequency of a resident judge denying a permit that’s been recommended by the Attorney General’s office, Ms. Carmichael said.

“The Superior Court does not gather or maintain that information,” she said.

Concealed carry permit application information is filed with Superior Court, and the Prothonotary sends duplicates of all documents to the Attorney General’s office in the county it was filed.

According to the Mr. Michalowski, “The USCCA encourages its members to train regularly with their firearms and to carry a firearm daily everywhere it is legal to do so. The chances of being involved in a deadly force incident are small, but it is our position that we prepare for the possibility, not the probability.

“Crime can happen anywhere and until someone can accurately predict where the next violent crime will occur, the USCCA will advocate for preparedness through training and daily carry.”

Mr. Michalowski believes “Crime is down because responsibly armed Americans are taking control of their own personal defense. Good people understand that they should not be forced to outsource there personal safety to a government agency. Police cannot be everywhere. Response time is measured in minutes while attacks last mere seconds. The best defense against violent crime is an immediate response as the crime is happening. A legally carried firearm provides the best opportunity for an honest citizen to stop a criminal attack.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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