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Gun permit applications rise in January

Amanda Nobles, a clerk at the Dougherty County Probate Court, processed 150 firearm license applications in January, a 27 percent increase from the same period last year. Applicants pay a $70 fee and must have a clean drug and legal record.

Amanda Nobles, a clerk at the Dougherty County Probate Court, processed 150 firearm license applications in January, a 27 percent increase from the same period last year. Applicants pay a $70 fee and must have a clean drug and legal record.

ALBANY, Ga. -- It could be that people think their Second Amendment rights are being weakened, or maybe they're just just concerned for their sfaety. Whatever the reason, there were 150 handgun carry permit applications in the month of January in Dougherty County -- a 27 percent increase over the number for January 2012.

Since the elementary school shooting in Connecticut in December, President Obama has proposed a number of initiatives aimed at restricting certain types of firearms and high-capacity magazines. That's caused a flurry of gun purchases by those who want to "get them while they can."

"We do have some people who've said they're concerned about the Second Amendment," said Amanda Nobles, who processes handgun permit applications at the Dougherty County Probate Court, "But some are saying they're afraid it will leave a paper trail and their guns could be taken."

In Georgia, an individual can legally own a handgun and keep it anywhere in the person's home or business. Georgians can also keep a handgun in their car. For almost anywhere else, a permit is needed. Even so, there are some restrictions and those are listed in literature available at the Probate Court and some other county agencies.

"A few years ago, there were more restrictions for handguns in your car," said Col. John Ostrander with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office. "Now, you can keep one loaded anywhere in your own car, even without a permit."

The Probate Court of Dougherty County at 225 Pine Ave., Suite 123, accepts applications for five-year gun permits 8:30 a.m -11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. weekdays. Applicants pay a $70 court fee as a local check, cash, money order or credit card (except Visa). there is also a $5 Sheriff's Office fee, payable in cash. Applicants must be 21 years of age or older and reside in Dougherty County.

As might be expected, applicants need a clear criminal record to receive a firearms license. In addition to standard information -- including address, employer and Social Security number -- applicants answer yes or no to questions including citizenship, convictions, court pleas, armed services discharge, mental health treatment and addiction and use of illegal drugs.