The number of county residents seeking permits to acquire guns and permits to cary guns has soared in the first 3 1/2 months of the year.
Through the middle of April in 2013, the number of Watonwan County residents who have requested permits to acquire guns was 53 and the number of permits to carry guns was 49 for a total of 102.
The numbers for all of 2011 were 44 permits to acquire and 43 permits to carry for a total of 87. The numbers for all of 2012 were 79 permits to acquire and 61 permits to carry for a total of 140.
If the current trend remains in place for the entire year the county may have nearly 400 permits to acquire or carry by the time 2013 draws to a close.
These are the county numbers only. St. James and Madelia Police Departments keep track of permit requests within the city limits.
Much of this surge in permit requests is likely a reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre as some people are concerned new gun laws might restrict access to certain types of guns or gun clips now available or put up additional barriers or background checks before a person could purchase a gun.
Shay Forstrom is an Administrative Secretary for the Watonwan County Sheriff’s Department and she handles the permitting process for the Sheriff’s Department. She is not required to ask people why they are seeking permits, but she said that one of the motivations that people express to her is that, “A lot of people have expressed concerns about new gun laws.”
Forstrom didn’t have a sense that there was a surge in permits in the last quarter of last year, but Google Trends reported that a search term like ‘bulk ammo’ soared after President Obama won reelection. Several national news reports also had gun sales soaring after the President won reelection.
Permits to carry in Minnesota require the individual requesting the permit to attend a gun safety class taught by a qualified instructor before the Sheriff’s Department would issue the permit.
The permit to acquire a gun involves the Sheriff’s Department seeking information from the state of Minnesota about an applicant’s mental health, whether the person has a drug conviction and a criminal background check including if a person has a restraining order placed against them.
Forstrom agreed that much of what people seemed to be concerned about happening if new gun laws were passed are already in force in Minnesota.
At the current time gun permits are not required if a person purchases a gun at a gun show or from a private party.