It didn’t surprise me a bit to learn that license-to-carry applications in Philadelphia have risen over the past year. First, you have the constant reports of shootings, carjackings and other violent crimes in the city. Second, the Philadelphia Police Department made it dramatically easier to apply for a license to carry, starting in January 2021. But I wasn’t exactly ready for just how big this increase has been. And neither was the Philadelphia Police Department, it seems.
“When I saw how high the numbers were, I had to call our stats department to make sure they were right,” police department spokesperson Jasmine Reilly told me after I requested the data.
From 2017 through 2020, the number of license-to-carry applications in Philadelphia held about steady, ranging between 11,049 and 11,814 applications each year. But in 2021, 70,789 people applied for licenses to carry guns.
In other words, license-to-carry applications more than sextupled last year. And in January of this year, the number of applications continued its upward trajectory. (The Pennsylvania State Police publish an annual report showing the number of licenses issued in the counties surrounding Philadelphia as well as in the rest of the state, but a spokesperson for PSP says that data isn’t yet available for 2021.)