So far in 2009, the number of South Carolinians wanting to pack heat nearly has doubled over the previous year as people worry about violent crime and feel threatened by partisan politics.
As of mid-October, 28,197 new concealed weapons permits have been issued this year by South Carolina's State Law Enforcement Division.
It's an annual record that already has surpassed the 14,630 new permits issued in all of 2008 and by far outstrips all previous years, according to SLED statistics.
The demand for permits is being driven, in part, over people's belief that President Barack Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress are a threat to their Second Amendment rights.
"People are thinking, 'I want to get it and get it now,'" said Tom Thompson, president of the Mid-Carolina Rifle Club in Gaston, in Lexington County. "In case the Democrats try to pull something on us, we're going to have it."
Others increasingly worry that a sinister crime may happen to them.
"I very truly believe there are bad people out there," said Patty Clark, a 49-year-old Gilbert resident with a concealed weapons permit. "Not that every time you walk out the door you're in danger of being attacked, but there are bad people out there who can hurt you."
The increasing number of people carrying concealed weapons is just one sign of South Carolina's shifting gun culture. The permit allows people to hide guns beneath their clothes or in their purses, briefcases and backpacks.
Read more at TheState.com