On the state level, law enforcement officials say they aren’t alarmed by the increase.
In 2009, county sheriffs’ departments issued 11,160 permits allowing residents to carry concealed handguns in most public places. In 2013, that number had jumped to 44,981.
The largest increase was from 2012 to 2013, when the number of permits issued annually increased by more than 15,000, up from 29,712 in 2012.
Those numbers, compiled by the West Virginia State Police, are only the permits issued each year. A permit is valid for five years, so the total number of West Virginians licensed to carry concealed handguns is much higher.
While some may have been revoked or surrendered, a total of 126,514 permits were issued in the five years including 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Law enforcement officials say they can’t attribute the sharp increase to any one factor, noting that it coincides with numerous high-profile violent incidents around the nation and heightened conflict over the politics of gun control.