County gun permits on the rise
While Congress debates gun-control proposals, local law enforcement agencies report a surge in gun permit applications.
“In the three weeks after the Connecticut school shooting there was a little influx. It always seems to go up when there is something like that” says Mike Gormley, Faribault County sheriff.
The figures show there were 22 permit applications to purchase a firearm and 24 to carry and conceal handguns.
Local police departments may only issue permits to purchase and they are free of charge.
In Blue Earth seven were approved, while Winnebago gave out five and Minnesota Lake one.
“I got two quick applications right after the shooting in Connecticut happened. I don’t think I’m doing any more than I usually do,” says Bob Toland, Winnebago police chief.”
Last year, the combined total of purchase and carry/conceal permits were 79 new ones and 17 renewals.
That number was down from 2011, when there were 87 new permits issued and 16 renewed.
In 2010, the numbers also saw a decrease. There were 26 new permits and seven renewals, compared to 30 and respectively the year before.
“As law officers we would love it if people didn’t have guns. But, as an American you have the right to own and bear them,” says Gormley.
A month after a gunman opened fire at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, killing 20 students and six adults, President Barack Obama is calling for federal lawmakers to approve measures to reduce gun violence.
The proposals call for bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, requiring people to pass universal background checks before purchasing any gun and improving school safety, including putting 1,000 officers in schools.
Also, Obama enacted 23 measures that did not require approval of lawmakers, such as:
ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks;
appointing a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives;
and directing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.
Gormley says a gun safety class recently held and anticipation of tougher laws may account for more persons seeking a permit.
“There was some fear when Obama was elected and re-elected that he was going to take your right to have a gun by making it harder to get a permit,” he says.
Both Gormley and Toland say extensive background checks involving criminal and mental health are conducted and can take up to one week.
“We contact the state Department of Human Services to see if anyone has been institutionalized,” says Toland.
While he agrees with shaving better background checks, Gormley thinks the focus needs to be on mental health.
He says many people wanting a gun can get one through other means not requiring a background check.
“We need to get help to those people with mental issues before they purchase a firearm and hurt someone,” he says.