THOMASVILLE — Georgia residents purchasing firearm licenses will see a $20 hike in a couple of weeks.

Locally, Thomas County will not keep any of the increase, which is effective July 1.

State government is charging more because of “significant revenue shortfalls,” said Vickie Burnette, Thomas County probate judge, whose office issues firearm licenses.

The statewide increase is a result of a hike in the fee charged for state and federal criminal history checks. The cost will go from $19.25 to $40.

A breakdown of the new $67.90 fee shows county government will continue to receive $15. The Georgia Applicant Processing Service portion of the fee for fingerprinting will remain the same at $12.90.

The criminal history check increase is necessary for the Georgia Crime Information Center to recover costs incurred in conducting fingerprint-based criminal history record information, Burnette explained.

“They’re keeping the money. We’re still doing the work,” she added.

Thomas County has about 1,523 firearm license-holders.

“We had a drastic increase in applications last fall. We had 431 applications from October 2008 until May 2009,” Burnette said.

She said the surge in applications was because Barack Obama, who was elected U.S. president in November 2008, threatened gun control.

“Sometimes we have five or six a day,” Burnette said.

Anyone who carries a firearm on his or her person must have a permit.

“A person can have weapons in their home, their vehicle or their place of business without a license,” Burnette explained.

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