BOSTON (CBS) – Jenna DeVito is part of a growing trend in Massachusetts and beyond: people motivated to get a license to carry a weapon. “I need to be able to protect myself, especially being a female. I feel I’m already at a disadvantage as it is,” she said.
Her brother Matt, a firearms safety instructor, is getting her through the first hurdle required by law, a basic safety course. DeVito lost a former high school classmate when 32 students were gunned down at Virginia Tech in April of 2007. Then Sandy Hook left a deep impression with the random killing of young children.
“It’s just scary to think that there are people that can be walking around and enter a random community or random building like the school,” she said. She says concern for her safety, and the current political climate to crackdown on gun laws are the reasons she hopes to obtain a permit sooner rather than later.
Between 2008 and 2012 in Massachusetts, 57,000 of the most common type of firearms license, class A, were issued in Massachusetts, a 27 percent increase. But individual cities and towns have seen an even greater spike than that, especially since the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.
Wakefield Police Chief Rick Smith says in one day alone in February the department processed 21 permits, an all-time high. “People are saying they want to get their permit, they have a right to their permit,” he said.
Brookline Detective Sergeant Christopher Malinn says he can’t keep up with the paperwork as applications have also doubled in his town. The increases are not limited to a particular area. State records show in the last four years, for example, Gloucester saw a 41 percent increase in permits issued, in Wellesley a 43 percent increase, Quincy at 53 percent, and Falmouth at 60 percent.
Jenna DeVito believes with the proper training she is ready. “I believe it has lit a fire under me. I need to take the steps to be proactive,” she said. Applicants must pass background and mental health checks, and local police chiefs have the final say on who is issued a permit.