Gun owners are packing heat in record numbers, fearful of stricter gun control under the Obama administration and higher crime in a sour economy.
Some states and counties report a surge in applications for concealed weapons permits since the November election. All states but Illinois and Wisconsin allow concealed weapons, but requirements differ.
Applications already have hit a record this year in Clay County, Mo., where the sheriff's office received 888 through June, compared with 863 in all of last year, Sheriff Bob Boydston says.
In the past, applicants tended to be middle-aged men, he says, but now include "grandmothers, older folks, young women, young men."
They tell him the bad economy will lead to more thefts and break-ins, he says, but his statistics show recession-related violent crime hasn't gone up.
They also fear gun control, he says. Last week, an elderly couple seeking a permit told him they were sure the president was "on the verge of coming to our homes and taking our weapons," he says.