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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — A strong reaction to the gun debate has more people applying for permits. The paperwork is piling up, and law enforcement is just trying to keep up.

“We have been absolutely swamped with pistol permit applications,” Kanawha County Chief Deputy Mike Rutherford said.

In Kanawha County, the number of concealed pistol permit applications has tripled in the past few months.

“I’m not gonna need it to go to the grocery store or show up to work, but when you’re out and about in the community and you don’t know your surroundings, it’s nice to feel safe and know that you’re protected,” Stephen Hughes, a gun permit applicant, said.

Hughes is one of about 450 people to apply for a permit in Kanawha County just this week.

“I don’t expect it to be as easy as filling out this application,” Hughes said.

Before applying, you must first take a training class so you know how to use a gun and use it safely.

After applying, there’s a background check. About 97 percent do qualify, but not everyone makes the cut.

“It can be trying,” Rutherford said. “There’s some people getting a little upset because we have to turn them down, but we have no choice. We’re here to enforce the law, not to break it.”

Anyone who’s been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, is a convicted felon or shows evidence of a drug or alcohol problem cannot get a permit.

Checking each of those stipulations for each application takes time.

“If it’s a little bit of a process, that’s fine,” Hughes said. “I don’t want to know that there’s somebody out there holding a concealed weapon’s permit that shouldn’t have one.”

The increase is not exclusive to Kanawha County. This is something being seen statewide.

Law enforcement started seeing this trend at the beginning of the year, right when the gun debate started.

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