In the first quarter of this year, 9,227 people applied for a license to carry in the county, and 8,802 were issued. The high number of applicants continued into the second quarter despite the drop in PICS transactions as 9,267 people applied and 8,745 were issued.
“The [license to carry] applications have increased in 2021, and that could be for a variety of reasons,” Allegheny County chief deputy sheriff Kevin Kraus said. “At times of a pandemic we notice a spike in numbers — as we did with COVID. In relation to 2021, anytime that there’s a transition of power in the White House we tend to see a spike in applicants, and anytime there’s a mass shooting or any type of disaster, it seems to spike the numbers. Almost all of the licenses to carry we issue are for self-defense issues. There’s a box on the application and almost all check off self-defense.”
Chief deputy sheriff Kraus did not have an explanation for the sudden drop in (Pennsylvania Instant Check System) transactions.
An owner at one of Allegheny County’s 139 licensed firearms dealers, Smoke N Guns in Oakmont, has noticed the difference and attributes the spike and sudden drop to “panic buying” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales have “gone down to basically what it was prior to the pandemic. Typically these months are a little bit slower, but last year, it wasn’t. .. People were just buying and buying — new gun owners coming in saying ‘I need something for my house. I’m afraid of what’s going on.’ I’m not seeing as many new gun owners now,” Greg “Gooch” Ionadi, a co-owner of Smoke N Guns, said.