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The Allen County sheriff's department in Lima quietly opens at 8 a.m. every weekday.
But when the doors opened yesterday, 40 people were waiting to get inside.
They were eager to be the first to apply for a concealed weapons permit on the first day it was legal in Ohio. A new law makes it legal for eligible Ohioans to carry a concealed weapon.
Yesterday, people around Ohio went to sheriff's departments to pick up applications or meet with deputies for processing the forms they got off the Ohio attorney general's Web site.
In some counties yesterday, people flooded sheriff's departments and phone lines. Other deputies were surprised at how few visitors they had. By mid-morning, Paulding County had only seen one applicant.
"We expected 100 to 150 people the first day, and we probably only had 50," Hancock County Lt. Gary Crace said.
People started lining up outside the sheriff's department in Erie County at 6:30 a.m., and all the appointments are booked for the next week in Wood County.
In Lucas County, 183 people picked up paperwork in the county jail lobby.
"I'm surprised we didn't have more people standing in line and more people coming in," Sheriff James Telb said, adding that some residents probably got their permit application somewhere else.
Toledo residents Roy and Wilma Head had such a plan.
Instead of fighting an anticipated crowd, the couple, who said they want concealed-carry permits for personal safety, drove to Wauseon where they were among about 50 people who signed in at the Fulton County sheriff's office.
Nineteen of the first 30 people at the sheriff's office in Fulton County were from Lucas County, Sheriff Darrell Merillat said.
The Wood County Sheriff's Department was flooded with phone calls from people wanting appointments to have their applications processed. The sheriff's office is only accepting applications by appointment, and those will be held during specified hours beginning Tuesday.
Chief Deputy Mark Hummer said the 30 appointments for next week were filled by 9:15 a.m. He said he had expected a line of people waiting in the morning, but instead they merely jammed the phone lines.
Mike Schmitz of Portage said he didn't mind waiting until next week for an appointment.
Mr. Schmitz said he enjoys target shooting and thinks having a concealed-carry permit will make it easier for him to
transport his gun in his vehicle when he's going to an out-of-town firing range.
"I belong to the NRA, and I just believe in our rights," Mr. Schmitz said.
In Henry County, Sheriff John Nye said he's considering offering evening hours for applicants next week should the need arise. About 20 people filed applications and another dozen picked up forms.
In Lucas County, sheriff's authorities will be stationed in the jail lobby again today.
But starting Monday, applicants will be directed to the record bureau between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. weekdays.
Appointments to process the applications will be scheduled during weekday office hours and until 6 p.m. on Tuesdays. Applicants also can schedule appointments from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday May 8 and Saturday May 16.
Officials estimate it will take 20 minutes for a deputy to go over the completed application, electronically scan the applicant's fingerprints, photograph the applicant, collect the $45 fee, and initiate a criminal background check.
Applications are available at any sheriff's office or online at www.ag.state.oh.us. Before applying, individuals must first complete 12 hours of firearms training. When they bring their completed application to the sheriff's office, applicants must have a training certificate, a passport-size photo, and $45 in cash or certified check.
Applicants will know within 45 days, after an application process and background check, whether they were approved for the permit.
Staff writers Kim Bates, Jennifer Feehan, and Christina Hall contributed to this report.
Contact Jane Schmucker at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6102.