President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a number of efforts last week aimed at curbing gun violence in the United States.
Massachusetts is home to some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, with local members of Congress urging the federal government do more to prevent tragedies like that in Newtown, CT.
That got us thinking. How many Stoneham residents have a gun license?
The answer: 861, if you're talking about the most common type of gun license, according to figures provided to Stoneham Patch by the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security of active firearms licenses in Stoneham from 2008 through 2012.
In bureaucratic-speak, those 861 licenses are "Resident Class A Large Capacity License to Carry Firearms." According to the Globe, it's the only Massachusetts license that lets individuals carry a concealed weapon and own any type of legal gun.
To put that 861 person figure in context, Stoneham's population is 21,437 according to the 2010 Census. That means about 4 percent of Stonehamites have the most common type of gun license.
Since 2008, the number of people with a gun license in town has risen 23.9 percent. The single biggest jump came between 2008 and 2009 when there was a nationwide spike in gun permits sought. Some attributed that to fears Obama would restrict gun rights. But according to the Globe, the economic downtown may also have played a role in the increase, as people worried about their personal safety.
Among other types of licenses, numbers held pretty steady across that span, including Firearms Identification Cards solely for chemical propellants, such as mace or pepper spray, "Class B" licenses for small capacity guns, and machine guns licenses. In Massachusetts, machine guns licenses are only issued to firearms instructor for the sole purpose of instruction to police personnel or to a "bona fide" collector of firearms, per state law.
Here are the numbers for Stoneham:Permit 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Firearms Identification Card 108 118 111 97 92 Firearms Identification Card Restricted Chemical Propellant Only 53 54 59 58 57 Resident Class A Large Capacity License to Carry Firearms 695 763 814 835 861 Resident Class B Non-Large Capacity License to Carry Firearms 1 1 1 1 2 Resident License to Possess a Machine Gun 5 5 4 4 4 Total 862 941 989 995 1,016
More information on the kinds of firearms permits available in Massachusetts can be found here.