Like many government offices, and especially those in Pennsylvania, in person access to the offices that process applications & renewals for licenses to carry were either completely cut off or significantly reduced for much of 2020. In order to keep demand reduced, Pennsylvania’s Governor extended renewals of many government documents and licenses that normally expire. For example, no one whose license to carry (LTC) a firearm “expired” last year from March 20 on has an expired license yet. They are good through the end of June for now. And, if the concern remains about having people flood into offices, then they may be extended yet again.
Regardless, the Bucks County numbers for licenses to carry issued in 2020 (both new and renewals that didn’t even need to happen) were up by just over 65% compared to the 2019 numbers! If you could the total of LTC holders over the previous 5 years (period they are valid), that means the number of residents 21 and over who could carry firearms concealed was up 13% by the end of last year.
According to State Police statistics, 15,324 licenses to carry firearms were issued in Bucks County in 2020. In 2019, that was only 9,280. And that isn’t just people getting licenses renewed since, in addition to the fact that people didn’t even have to renew for most of 2020, the office only issued 8,833 licenses 5 years prior. So that means that even if every single person from 5 years prior definitely renewed, we were still adding about 74% more concealed carry licenses in the county over that period.
One of the things that the Sheriff instituted is online application and renewals with in person pickup so that they could get more people reviewed safely and only deal with interactions for pick up which doesn’t require as much time face-to-face (or, more of concern, breathing the same air). That does probably account for some of the increase, though the requirements to obtain one didn’t change at all. And the price definitely didn’t drop – it actually increased slightly for those opting for online payments.
If any of that demand on renewals was deferred until 2021, then we could be in for some epic numbers for 2021.
If you assume that all of the LTCs issued in the last 5 years are still valid, then that means 56,514 Bucks County residents were licensed to carry at the end of 2020. The county-level census data isn’t available, so the best I have is the 2019 estimate that doesn’t allow me to sort by under 21, just under 18. So the total includes some 18-20 year olds who aren’t qualified. Regardless, that number is just over 501,000, so that means about 11% adults are licensed to carry here. Every 9 or so people you see at the grocery store? One of them is likely to have a license to carry.
That’s not too shabby. Of course, it means we really need to step it up with more local opportunities for all of those people to shoot, connect with a community of gun owners, and hopefully get them some ammunition to go into those little-used guns.