By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
Curry County residents account for about 3 percent of concealed weapon permit holders in the state.
There are 186 Curry County citizens and 45 Roosevelt County residents currently authorized to carry concealed handguns, according to the Department of Public Safety.
More than 7,000 permits have been issued in New Mexico, up from 1,127 in July 2004.
Steve Aikens of Clovis teaches a firearms training class, required prior to obtaining the permit.
“I think that it’s really important that people know how to handle their firearms,” he said, explaining he instructs students on basic firearm handling and safety in addition to the legalities of firearm ownership.
Aikens said he expects more will apply for permits with a new law that went into effect July 1. The law allows persons with permits to carry their weapons into establishments which sell alcohol for off-premises consumption.
Aikens said he lobbied for change in the law and was glad to see it.
Since March 2005, 294 people have taken his course, but of those, Aikens said only about 40 percent went through with the permit process.
He believes many decided not to go through with the permit because the law forced them to leave their gun in their automobile to go into convenience stores selling alcohol. The guns in the vehicles created a more dangerous scenario, he said.
“They recognized there was truly no benefit,” he said.
Passed in 2003, the state’s concealed carry law allows New Mexicans 21 and older to apply for four-year concealed carry licenses after completing firearms training and passing national and local criminal background checks. Felons and people convicted of misdemeanor assault or battery on a household member or of DWI in the past five years are ineligible.
The identity of permit applicants and holders is confidential by law.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report