By PATRICIA MORSE/Montana State News
In the past three years the nation has experienced a rise of concealed carry gun permits; Montana especially has achieved a steady increase of 5.5 percent in the last two years alone, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Furthermore, according to the last state data collection in March 2015, Montana had 43,567 active permits. This data means that about 1 out of every 23 Montanans has a license to carry, and nationally 1 out of 80 adults, according to Concealed Nation.
The rise of concealed carry permits, has sparked debates on the national and state level about the safety or lack thereof that the weapons create.
However, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Mercer is not concerned about the rise of permits.
“It puts my mind at ease,” said Mercer. “I’m probably not dealing with a felon.” Mercer, states that during traffic stops the information is flagged and he is made aware that the individual has a permit.
Mercer, believes that knowing an individual probably has a weapon on them, allows him to approach the situation with more caution but he believes that is a safer situation to enter than one where an unregistered individual is illegally concealing a weapon, due to the mandatory background check.
Mercer also does not believe that the rise in concealed carry permits is a negative reflection on the local police. “In Montana,” said Mercer, “the rural necessitates and creates a need for safety.”
According to the American Police Beat, the national average for police response time is 11 minutes; in Bozeman, the response time is closer to five minutes according to the Gallatin County Police Department. However, the majority of Gallatin County and Montana is rural increasing the police response time.
In this case, Mercer believes that an individual with a concealed carry weapon has the potential to diffuse the situation in a positive manner protecting themselves, family, and others.
Mercer states that most individuals who go through the process of obtaining a concealed carry permit and pass the background check, just want the option of protecting themselves and want to help make a difference.
Mercer also believes that the increase in concealed carry permits in Montana is good. He stated that if the bad guys know that their victim has the potential to be a carrier they will be less likely to attack and would likely move on to the next city or state, making Montana an overall safe environment.
– Edited by Tyler Worthen