CLEVELAND - An exclusive 5 On Your Side review of state records reveals licenses to carry concealed handguns in Ohio has set a new record.
In Cuyahoga County, 2,052 concealed handgun licenses have been issued in 2012.
County sheriff's across Ohio have issued 48,971 concealed handgun licenses through September 2012, according to records maintained by the Ohio Attorney General's Office.
Figures for the last three months of 2012 are not available, but based on historical records, an additional 10,000 to 15,000 licenses are expected to be issue. That will put the 2012 total to well over 50,000, the greatest number of licenses issued in a single year.
Additional records show 296,588 licenses have been issued since the concealed weapon law went into effect in 2004, bringing the the total number of handgun licenses to 345,559 through September 2011.
The number of handgun licenses being revoked has also set a new record.
Through the first nine months of 2012, 669 licenses were revoked. That's more than three times that of 2011 and more than any of the previous five years.
According to Ohio law, revocations can be based on several factors including drug, assault and other felony and violence-related misdemeanors. Revocations can also result because of the death of a license holder, mental illness or moving out of state.
Our investigation found it is impossible to know the precise breakdown because those records are not maintained by county sheriffs.
Even so, some police officers like Sgt. David Knarr said they have seen a growing number of arrests involving concealed weapon license holders.
"We've gotten everything from drug trafficking to possession to domestic violence," Knarr said.
So many Ohioans are applying for concealed weapons that the Lake County's Sheriff's Department was forced to close temporarily its licensing office on Monday when more than 100 showed up at the door.
Some speculate that recent discussions of new, federal legislation regulating gun possession is fueling the surge in concealed weapon applications.