In December, 1,212 applications were filed, Probate Court Judge Kelli Wolk said. That was nearly twice the 642 filed in December 2011.
“This is the busiest we’ve ever been,” Wolk said.
Of the concealed weapons applications filed in December, 843 came since the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which a gunman killed 26 people, 20 of them children. Though the first business day after the shooting was Dec. 17, leaving less than half the month, the number of applications filed in just over two weeks was more than any complete month since 2009.
The shootings have led to calls for more gun control, including a reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
The increase in applications has led Wolk to move staff around to meet the demand. The judge herself is now working on marriage applications, in order to free others up to handle weapons permits.
“I just help with the marriage licenses so I don’t mess up the firearm licenses,” Wolk said. “The chief clerk, me, anyone who’s around, we just assist. We’re all up there helping out any way that we can.”
The Board of Commissioners had approved a part time position last year to help with probate court, but Wolk said the college student who took the job recently took an internship, leaving the position vacant.
Wolk said that her chief license clerk had never seen more than 100 applications filed in a single day in her 19 years at the office. But the number of applications reached triple figures on five days in the second half of December, topping out at 133 applications filed on Dec. 28.
In January, there’s been little slowdown, with 208 applications filed by midday Friday, two-and-a-half days into the month, Wolk said.
Since 2006, the only other times the county has exceeded 1,000 applications in a month came shortly after President Barack Obama’s inauguration, when 1,118 applications were filed in February 2009 and 1,105 were filed a month later.
The extra concealed weapons applications also have an impact on the Cobb Sheriff’s Office, where applicants go to electronically scan a fingerprint after filing their paperwork in the probate court office.
Col. Don Bartlett, head of administrative services with the department, said the office recently added a new LiveScan machine to replace an aging machine that transmits fingerprint images to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Georgia Crime Information Center. But after demand increased, officials were able to get permission to bring the old machine back online.
But having two machines means having to now have two people on staff to take fingerprints, Bartlett said.
“Typically, we would easily do that function with one person, it definitely takes two people now,” he said. “We appreciate everybody’s patience. I don’t think we’ve ever seen numbers like we’re seeing right now.”