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LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- Lincoln County residents wanting to get a gun permit must now apply online with the Sheriff s Office.

Applications can be accessed by going to www.lincolnsheriff.org and clicking on the Gun Permits link on the left side of the page. You must use a credit card to pay the permit fee.

People can access the site through their own computer, or use terminals set up in the Sheriff s Office locations at 700 John Howell Memorial Dr. in Lincolnton or at 1880 N. Hwy. 16 in Denver. Once approved, the permits will need to be picked up at the sheriff s office.

Lincoln was among eight counties across the region that saw an increase in gun permit applications last year. That includes a spike of requests in December, which mirrored a trend seen across the country and fueled by fears of tougher gun laws after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting.

In December, the Lincoln Sheriff s Office processed 217 permits, more than double the 98 received in December 2011. The office has also received 91 applications so far this year.

The increased demand for permits and conceal carry permits is understandable due to the great public concern that the President will implement more requirements and regulations to our existing gun laws, Sheriff David Carpenter said in a news release.

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