SALT LAKE CITY — Deadly mass shootings and talk of gun control around the country drove applications for Utah's concealed weapons permit to a record high.
The state Bureau of Criminal Identification has already issued 31,000 more permits through August than it did all of last year, and is projecting a total of 138,720 for 2013.
In addition, BCI ended the 2013 fiscal year with a $2.3 million revenue surplus, prompting at least one state lawmaker to wonder whether the state is charging too much for the permit. Utah residents pay $46 and nonresidents pay $51. The renewal fee is $15.
BCI chief Alice Moffatt said the agency had "bins and bins" of applications in February, March and April when the numbers swelled to more than 18,000 per month. She attributed the surge to last year's shootings in Connecticut and Colorado and gun control legislation.
"That seems to spur people getting their concealed weapons permits," she told the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee on Wednesday.
Permit renewals will exceed 40,000 this year, a 42 percent increase, Moffat said.
Non-Utahns hold 62 percent of the state's 325,293 valid permits. Thirty-five states recognize Utah's concealed weapons permits.
BCI took in more than $5 million in the budget year that ended June 30. After operating expenses, it was left with $2.3 million in revenue.
Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Ogden, said the state never intended to make money on concealed weapons permits. He suggested possibly reducing the fee for Utah residents.
Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, said the Legislature cut the fee dramatically over the years and the revenue surplus was an anomaly.
Moffat said permit applications started slowing down to 7,000 to 10,000 a month in July and BCI is projecting it will make $2 million less in the current fiscal year.