The Lycoming County Sheriff's Department, which issues licenses to carry concealed firearms, experienced an increase of 1,549 applicants in 2012 compared to 2011, according to Sheriff Mark Lusk.
"License to carry has been a really hot topic," he said, especially in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook, Conn., elementary school shooting tragedy a month ago.
Lusk said in the week after the school shooting 182 firearms permits were issued by his office, compared to 42 the same week a year ago.
Overall, 3,924 permits were issued in 2012 compared to 2,375 in 2011 - a 65 percent increase. Permits increased 108 percent over 2010 numbers when 1,878 were issued.
In the last two weeks of 2012, Lusk said his office processed 328 licenses at a time when it typically handles 40 to 60, he said.
Office staff are required to call a state police background check number, but "we aren't even getting through," he said. "We're seeing very long delays in having clearances done."