Carroll County Probate Court Judge Betty Cason said her office has already received more permit applications this month than all of last January.
In January 2012, 135 people applied for permits. In the seven days the office has been open so far this year, 152 people have come in to apply.
"Anytime something like this happens, we see a spike," Cason said, referring to the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn., which left 28 people dead. "People just feel they need that protection, especially when there's a lot of talk about possibly restricting their gun rights."
In December 2012, Cason's office had 243 applications pass through, many more than normal.
Gun sales have also seen a sharp spike since the tragedy.
Sam Duke, who works in the gun department at Carrollton's Barnes Store on Bankhead Highway, said the increase started after President Barack Obama was elected and escalated after the Newtown shooting.
Duke said the store can't keep the popular AR-15 — the semi-automatic rifle used by 20-year-old Adam Lanza in the Connecticut tragedy — in stock.
"As soon as we get some in, they're sold," Duke said. "We've sold more than 100 since the shooting."
AR-15s aren't the only kind of firearm in short supply after the increase — Duke said he's also seen a rise in sales of small guns, like 9mm Lugers.
"We've seen a large increase in the number of ladies getting guns," Duke said. "A lot of husbands who want their wives to be protected."
While the business at the Barnes Store gun counter is thriving, Duke said he's uncomfortable with the reason.
"I hate that we're benefiting from this tragedy," Duke said.
Chief Deputy Brad Robinson of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office said he's a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but that those wishing to have a permit should be patient.
Robinson said he's seen a "huge increase" in the number of people coming to his office to be fingerprinted, a requisite for all permit applicants.
"There have been days when we've had more than 30 applicants, when on a normal day before all this happened, we'd have one or two," Robinson said. "They are just coming in droves."
Robinson stressed that the boom has placed a greater workload on the office staff.
"Certainly if an individual wants one, it's up to their discretion," Robinson said. "We just ask them to realize that it's the jail staff doing the fingerprinting, so please be patient because they're adding to everything else they've already got to do."
However, Robinson said the surge is "really not called for," since permits aren't required in most cases.
"I don't think they realize that people have the right to have a firearm without any permit at all," Robinson said. "So it's really not called for since they have the right to have them anyway."
Cason brought up a concern she has about state gun laws — the lack of a requirement for applicants to have completed a safety training course.
"I would rather they be safe if they are going to have them, obviously," Cason said. "Most states require a 12-hour training course in gun safety. Georgia is one of a few states that don't require any kind of training."
In general, the only people prohibited from possessing guns are felons, felony probationers and people younger than 18 (except that minors may possess guns for hunting).
However, civilians must register certain weapons with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, including sawed-off shotguns, sawed-off rifles, fully automatic machine guns and silencers.
In Carroll County, a fee of $76 must be paid to the Carroll County Probate Court to receive a permit. This fee covers the $30 application charge, the charge of $5 for fingerprinting and records check at the sheriff's office, $40 for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Investigation for a complete criminal records history and $1 for mailing fee.