Federal gun debate spurs demand for concealed weapons permits - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Federal gun debate spurs demand for concealed weapons permits

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"I probably approve anywhere from 20 to 50 a week," said Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.

Hundreds of concealed weapons permit applications over the last two years in Kershaw County. Matthews puts everyone through an extensive background check before signing off.

"I'm not going to let a drug dealer who we might encounter again and again lawfully have a concealed weapons permit," he said.

Matthews said he saw the biggest spike in applications after Hope Melton was kidnapped, brutalized and murdered just over a year ago.

"A person has to be able to defend themselves frequently before we're even able to get there," he said. "That's why I encourage responsible people who are comfortable with it to get a concealed weapons permit."

Jim Braddock has been teaching CWP classes for 17 years. He said over the last few months he's had more students for two main reasons.

"A lot of incidents around the country and then on the other hand, a lot of people are apprehensive about what's coming down in the way of legislation,"said Braddock. "The ban on assault weapons and other things that play into it and a lot of people want to get their concealed weapons while they can."

George Watts is one of those people.

"The way things have been going politically and with gun control, I just feel like it was time to renew my permit. And I've always had guns," he said.

Sheriff Matthews does not support a federal ban on guns.

"It's a big problem and there's no simple solution," he said. "Too frequently I think there's a knee-jerk reaction: 'We gotta ban the guns.'"

Matthews said education can go a long way to make sure people responsibly exercise their 2nd amendment rights.

On Monday night at 6:30, at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School, there will be a presentation by martial arts experts on how parents and students can protect themselves.  There will also be information on how to sign up for concealed weapons permit classes.

To contact Jim Braddock for concealed weapons permit training, call 424-1000 or 240-9397.

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