HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The FBI tracks background checks performed for people purchasing a firearm, it's a federal requirement.
According to The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS website, the number of background checks performed in the United Sates has doubled over the last decade.
The numbers for South Carolina show the same upward trend.
Since 2002, NICS reports roughly 122,000 background checks. Since then, the number of checks has more than doubled. As of November this year there have been 265,000 checks.
These numbers don't represent actual gun purchases. Experts in the gun industry say these numbers do point in the direction of booming gun sales.
When it comes to the kind of guns people are buying and why, local gun shop owners say most of their customers are buying guns for recreational use, like hunting. But, the top reason among buyers seems to be for self protection.
Horry County resident Jeff Cariggan said, "I feel like desperate times call for desperate measures. Even though it's just a gun, I mean you have to protect yourself. Things can happen at any given day. You never know when you might need it." Cariggan is one of thousands of South Carolinians who recently received his concealed weapons permit or CWP.
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), just like firearm background checks, the number of active CWPs is climbing.
SLED is the government agency in charge of issuing a CWP.
According to the most recent stats, the number of active permits in the state increased six fold since 2006 when there were about 30,000 active CWPs. Active permits include both renewals and new permits issued.
In South Carolina a CWP is valid for four years.
As of last Friday there are 185,012 active CWPs in South Carolina.