Ohio sheriffs issued 16,823 CCW permits in the first three months of 2012, reflecting a 40.3 percent increase over the first quarter of 2010.
The Buckeye State's concealed-carry law went into effect in April 2004. In the first year, 47,497 permits were issued, a number that dropped to as low as 18,781 in 2006 before reaching its high point at 56,691 in 2009. In 2011, 49,828 were issued.
In 2011, Ohio was ranked 11th nationally in estimated total active permits (270,000) and 25th in permits as a percentage of adult population (3.2), according to the Government Accountability Office. By comparison, Pennsylvania had an estimated 786,000 permits, or 8.3 percent of the adult population, while Indiana had 406,000 permits, or 8.7 percent of the adult population.
The stellar first quarter came on the heels of a record-setting end to 2011, where 12,000 concealed-handgun permits were issued, making it busiest fourth quarter in the program's eight-year history. With the first-quarter totals, approximately 281,906 Ohio residents are presently licensed to carry concealed handguns, a number that by all appearances will likely approach or exceed 300,000 by the end of the year.
Jim Irvine, chairman of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said Ohio would likely rank higher nationally in total permits issued if its law had existed as long as some other states' laws.
"Ohio has only had concealed carry for eight years, whereas lots of states have had it for 15, 20 years plus," Irvine told the Dayton Daily News this week. "The longer you have it in place, the more people are going to get, so that's part of the reason we don't rank up higher."
Currently, the states with the highest percentage of permits per adult residents are Utah (19.3), Georgia (11.5), Iowa (10.9) and South Dakota (10.6).