The number of concealed carry applications made in Kansas has dropped again this year state-wide.

Editor’s note — This article contains information about concealed carry application rates in Kansas after changes to state firearm laws. It contains statements from local professionals, state statistics and national data.

The number of concealed carry applications made in Kansas has dropped again this year state-wide.

This decline comes on the heels of a legislative change in 2015 allowing eligible Kansans to carry concealed without a license. Between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, the Kansas Attorney General office’s Concealed Carry Licensing Unit received 5,874 applications. Compared with recent years, this marked a steep decline in new applications — there were 9,800 applications received in the prior year.

For Steve Sechler, owner of Treasure Chest Gun Shop, McPherson isn’t matching these declines. The store offers concealed carry licensing classes and other gun ownership education classes, and enrollment rates are rising.

“Constitutional carry allows anyone to carry, but the people carrying without a license probably shouldn’t be carrying because they don’t know the law. Now, people are starting to realize they need the education with it, so they’re taking the class now and it’s picked back up,” Sechler said. “I don’t see a decline, but when we go to gun shows, most of the people there already have one.”

Sechler explained that Kansans have not given up on concealed carry licenses because the population could be saturated. About 100,000 Kansans have active concealed carry licenses, reports the CCLU, which is 34 percent of the population.

“Most of the people who desire to carry, already have a license,” Sechler said. “Also, I think there’s a lot of people who want it, but just haven’t gotten it done. There’s a lot of procrastination — people say they’ve been wanting to learn to shoot, but haven’t had the time. But if someone breaks into your house, you’ll wish you had the time.”

Kansas is nowhere near the national averages for concealed carry licenses. According to a study performed by the Crime Prevention Research Center, only 5 percent of the US adult population has a concealed carry license. But the number of permits is increasing quickly. Over 2015, 1.7 million additional new permits were issued, which is a 15.4 percent increase in one year. This is the largest ever single-year increase in the number of concealed handgun permits.

Kansas is one of 10 states that does not require a license to carry weapon, yet many still advocate the education and training involved in obtaining the license.

“You should have a license because you’ll know the law and know what’s going to happen if you pull the trigger when you shouldn’t. A lot of people think that they can act tough if they own a gun and flash it at someone mouthing off, but that’s not exactly legal. You shouldn’t pull that thing unless you intend to use it,” Sechler said. “Liability is the main thing — if you do something wrong, it’s your fault and you need to defend yourself, but I’d rather defend myself in a court of law than be dead.”

Sechler explained that many customers purchase guns to feel safer, primarily because of political instability and violence occurring worldwide.

“The way things are today, you really should have [a concealed carry license] because there’s a lot going on out there,” Sechler said. “In Orlando, who was there to protect them? Nobody. That was a sad deal.”

Between 2007 and 2014, murder rates fell from 5.6 to 4.2 per 100,000 people, reports the Crime Prevention Research Center. This represents a 25 percent drop in the murder rate as the percentage of the adult population, with permits soared to 156 percent. Violent crime in general also fell by 25 percent over that period of time.

Sechler’s newest customer base — women — share these same fears and seek the proper training many bypass. Since 2007, permits for women has increased by 270 percent, and for men by 156 percent, reports the Crime Prevention Research Center.

“What surprises me the most is the amount of women who are buying guns. There’s a lot who have a fear of guns, but they want a gun now because they are more afraid of what’s out there and the goings on in the world,” Sechler explained. “Now, I can take them to our range and teach them how to shoot with a gun that is proper for them. A lot of guys like larger, heavy guns, but I’ll show women guns they’ll be comfortable with. If you’re not comfortable with that gun, you’re not going to shoot it.”

The Treasure Chest Gun Shop holds concealed carry classes about once a month, as well as basic handgun classes and courses for individual of all levels.

For more information, visit http://www.tcguns.com. More information on the concealed carry licensing program is available at www.ag.ks.gov.