The number of firearm training certificates issued to residents who wish to carry a concealed gun in Kentucky jumped to its highest number in a decade in the month of January, state officials said.
The issued certificates spiked from 4,355 in December to 12,685 in January, The Courier-Journal reported.
The Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice training said the number declined to 8,677 in February, but it was still at least double that of any month last year, aside from December. The training is required to receive a concealed carry license, which allows Kentuckians to carry a weapon out of sight under their clothing in public.
Faith Yount recently took a class at Open Range in Crestwood. After inheriting guns when her father died, the 38-year-old decided to get a license to protect herself and because "you don't know what will happen" with gun control.
She was startled by the cross-section of people taking the class at Open Range, she said.
"There was this little petite woman, an older woman, a lawyer's wife, all kind of people," she said. "You were like, `Why would they carry a gun?' But I guess people could say the same thing about me."
Kenneth Betts, a Louisville police officer who conducts courses, says gun ranges in Kentucky are jammed with students and even bullets are in short supply.
Concealed gun licenses are on a record course in a state that has seen its license numbers grow rapidly since 1996, when the state's concealed carry license law became effective. The state reported that since 1996 it has issued 243,924 concealed carry licenses to Kentuckians. Those licenses are good for five years and can be renewed.
Firearms instructors and gun range owners in Louisville say there's little doubt that 2013 will be a big year for new license holders and gun owners.
They say ammunition has been in short supply since December. A handful of Louisville gun stores said bullets, especially for .22-caliber and 9 mm handguns, are difficult to purchase. Prices in some cases have doubled.
Gun store owners say a perfect storm of events has led to a strong demand for guns and ammunition in Kentucky.
"Think about it. You had the election in November, followed by record sales for Christmas," said Gary Roman, owner of Louisville's Firearms Service Center. "You come right behind that with the school shooting (in Newtown, Conn.), which was a mushroom cloud. Everything on the market was absorbed in three days."
Da-Wyone Haynes, 42, a concealed carry instructor, said students often say they fear that President Barack Obama will "take our guns away" despite what he sees on balance as an expansion of gun-ownership rights across the country in recent years.
Haynes said recent mass shootings have galvanized interest in a new way.
"You have people who were on the fence, or saying `I'd never own a gun,' now feeling like, `Hey, I'm responsible for protecting my family,'" he said. "There's also this mentality of, `Oh my gosh, everybody out there is going have a gun; if I don't have one I'll be at a disadvantage.'"