Kansas has set a record, for the second straight month, for applications for concealed-carry permits, the Kansas Attorney General's office reported Monday.
The state received 3,573 applications for concealed-carry handgun permits in February, the most in any one month since the state started issuing the permits in 2006. That was more than the 3,167 applications counted in January — itself a record-setting month — and more than double the previous high of 1,651 in March 2012.
As of March 1, there were 53,180 active permits in Kansas, and the upward trend in Kansas mirrors a nationwide surge in gun buying, according to a key firearm sales indicator: firearm background check data from the FBI.
Four weeks since the beginning of February have ranked in the FBI's top ten busiest weeks for background checks since 1998, as far back as data is available. The week of Feb. 11 to Feb. 17 was the third busiest in all that time, with 618,361 background checks requested by gun dealers across the country.
A federal background check doesn't always indicate a new gun is purchased, but the firearms industry uses these numbers as an indicator of how well the gun business is doing.
Tim Van Leiden, owner of the Ottawa firearm store The Gun Guys, said the demand has been so urgent in recent months that he is losing money for a lack of guns in stock. Partly driven by a concern among customers that gun laws will grow more restrictive, Van Leiden said, people are buying handguns, shotguns, rifles and ammunition faster than he can get them from the manufacturers. He said he has no idea when supply will catch up to demand.
"We call it the best of times and the worst of times," Van Leiden said. "Everybody and their dog wants one."
In Kansas, the number of concealed-carry permits in the current fiscal year is likely to surpass last year's. In the past seven months, 11,018 permits have been received, nearly equal to the 12,408 received through all of the previous year.