Wood compared three different time periods over the last year — the week prior to the election, last week and this week.
He said 55 county residents came to Cherokee County Probate Court at 90 North St. to apply for licenses the week of Oct. 29, the week prior to the election. Last week, before the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, his office processed 53 applications.
On Friday afternoon, Wood said his office had processed 245 applications during the week and his lobby was still full of people.
He said his office was “absolutely overwhelmed.”
Wood said it is “certainly not a mystery” why so many more county residents are looking to carry weapons.
“People have certainly mentioned that they had been putting it off, but after everything that’s happened, they want to go ahead and get this done,” Wood said. “Fear generates fear, and that’s certainly what we have right now.”
Wood said all of the applications are processed within the office, including fingerprinting and background checks, with one dedicated weapons license employee and three others available to help.
“Even I’m up there helping out,” Wood said. “It’s completely managed, but it has literally been taking applications, fingerprinting them and then go on to the next. It’s very constant.”
Wood said there is usually a slight uptick in license applications at the end of the year, but he’s never seen this many. He noted there was also a slight increase in applications after the Colorado shootings.
Georgia weapons licenses can be applied for in the county the person resides. Cherokee County weapons licenses require an application, drivers license or state-issued identification showing residence, another document showing citizenship such as a passport or birth certificate.
The registration fee is $72.25 and the background check and fingerprinting is completed in-office.
Once the applicant is approved, the individual’s application is submitted to a company that prints the cards, which are sent out by Probate Court employees.
On a positive note, Wood said the increased applications bring income to the county.
“I just hate that it has to come as part of a tragedy,” Wood said.
Local gun stores have also seen an increase in sales over the last week.
Sean Jerguson, who owns Hi-Caliber Firearms in Holly Springs, said he has not been at the store much recently as he is campaigning for the seat recently vacated by Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock).
“We have seen an increase in sales,” he said.
Jerguson said he did not wish to make any further comments on the matter.
A store manager at Big Woods Goods on Ronnell Road in Canton said he had no time to talk about sales Friday afternoon.
“We are swamped,” he said.
At Cherokee Gun and Pawn, a store employee said he’s also seen an increase in sales but did not want to be identified.
“I think it has to do with legislation and the new laws more than (buying gifts for) Christmas,” the employee said. “People are scared they are going to have their rights taken away.”