What are the chances that the person waiting in the line in front of you at the grocery story is legally 'packing heat'?
About one in seven, if you live in Warren County.
According to figures provided by the Warren County's Sheriff's Department, 5,519 concealed firearm carry permits were issued in the county between 2005 and 2009, an average over over 1,100 a year.
Photo by Dean Wells
A semi-automatic handgun is seen with a concealed weapons permit issued in Warren County. According to statistics from the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, which issues the permits, some 5,519 new or renewed permits were issued in the last five years.
Since concealed carry permits expire every five years, it's safe to estimate that nearly 6,000 county residents have the legal right to carry a pistol tucked in a holster under their coats or shirts. That number translates into nearly 14 percent of the estimated 40,728 people living in Warren County.
In contrast, roughly 4 percent of Erie County residents (11,583) hold permits.
Last year was a banner year in Warren County, as far as new or renewed permits.
According to Sheriff Larry Kopko, 1,492 people applied for new or renewed concealed carry permits in 2009, as opposed to 941 in 2008.
In 2007, 1,170 people applied for permits. In 2006, 947 permits were issued. In 2005, 969 permits were issued by the Sheriff's Department.
"We hang right around these numbers consistently," Kopko said. "Last year, it might have been a little higher due to (President Barak) Obama being elected."
Erie County saw a similar spike last year as its numbers jumped from 2,800 in 2008 to 3,217 in 2009.
In Crawford County there are 6,326 concealed permit holders, representing 7 percent of the population. New and renewed permits increased from 1,231 in 2008 to 1,663 in 2009.
New and renewed concealed carry permits also rose dramatically in Forest County, with 998 sold in 2008 and 1,556 sold in 2009.
Pennsylvania concealed carry permits are available to both residents and non-residents and are valid for five years. Residents' applications are handled by their county's sheriff's office. The fee for the permit is $25. Permits must be honored by all other counties in the state.
The application process in Warren County includes filling out an application and submitting it to undergo a background check.
Pennsylvania is a "shall-issue" state, meaning the issuing entity is required to approve a concealed carry permit unless they can prove a person should be disqualified based on law.
The application must be approved or denied within 45 days.
An individual must be 21 years or older to apply for a permit to carry concealed firearms in Pennsylvania.
The permit allows an individual to carry a concealed firearm on their person or in their vehicle. A person doing so without a permit faces a third degree felony charge.
Persons 18 years and older who are not prohibited by law from owning firearms are allowed to openly carry a pistol in plain sight with no permit, except for while being in a vehicle, the city of Philadelphia and where specifically prohibited by statute.
Prohibited areas to carry a concealed weapon with a permit include school district property, courthouses, state parks and casinos.
No concealed carry license is required to carry a firearm in one's home or fixed place of business, or when engaged in target shooting, or going to and from places of target practice if the firearm is unloaded and the ammunition is carried in a separate container.