COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- Ohioans were issued more than 145,000 concealed carry licenses last year, a record high since the state began issuing licenses in 2004. That's nearly twice the old record of 76,810 from 2012.
96,972 new licenses were issued and 48,370 renewed. That's up from a 2012 record of 64,650 new licenses issued. The old record for renewals was set in 2008 when 31,139 were issued.
"It's never going to go back to the really low numbers. The new norm is higher than it used to be," said Jim Irvine, president of the Buckeye Firearms Foundation.
He thinks 2014 will be another strong year, but does see demand eventually leveling off. The new numbers now mean that about 400,000 Ohioans have a concealed carry permit, according to Irvine.
"It's still a very low percentage of our population that actually carries a concealed weapon or actually has a concealed carry permit," said Amy Pulles, president of the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence.
She worries about the high number of people carrying concealed weapons because she says she has a right to avoid them.
"If somebody is next to me and they have a firearm with them I feel that I have a right to know that so that I can then separate myself from that person," she said.
Pulles points to the recent shooting in a Florida movie theater during an argument between two men as an example of why more guns means a less safe environment. She claims that had the victim known that the other man was armed the situation may have ended differently.
Irvine says the notion that more guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens leads to more crime is absurd.
"Any way you slice it more guns is less crime. The numbers don't lie. It's overwhelming," he said.
Irvine blames the debate over guns after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and attacks at a Naval base near Washington, DC for driving demand to get concealed carry permits. He thinks more and more families see having a gun as no different than having a smoke detector in their home or wearing their seat belts in the car.
"This is something I need to do to keep myself and my family safe," he said.
The Attorney General’s Office compiles an annual report as required by law about the number of licenses issued each year. Each sheriff must report concealed handgun license statistics quarterly to the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission within the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
(Photo courtesy Getty Images)