CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - More than 158,000 concealed carry licenses were issued in the state of Ohio in 2016. According to the Ohio Attorney General's website, this is the largest in a single year since licenses were first issued in 2004.
Of the 158,982 licenses issued, 117,953 were new licenses, 40,986 were renewal licenses, and 43 were temporary licenses.
"If you can't defend yourself, you become a target," said concealed carry permit holder Stephen Cortez. "If you make yourself less of an easy target it makes you that much more prepared."
Cortez said he got his permit to protect himself. Many people want to be able to take their safety into their own hands.
"People are being afraid of going out to eat and someone crazy coming in and shooting them," said Stonewall Range owner Diane Donnett, who says she isn't surprised by the rising numbers. "We're seeing an upswing and, believe it or not, the biggest upswing we're seeing is in women."
Donnett said gun sales are up, so she's happy to hear concealed carry training is on the rise as well.
"It's just not go buy a gun and put in your drawer and see what happens, they're getting trained and learning how to shoot," she said.
She believes knowing how to use a gun correctly is the most important part of owning a firearm.
"Be prepared, be educated," said Cortez. "You can do more harm than good if you're not educated with it."
The county with the most concealed carry permits issued in 2016 was Franklin County, which issued more than 7,569 licenses.