Shootings trigger another rise in gun buying

Published 10:30 am Monday, December 14, 2015

By Stephen Montemayor

Gun permit applications and activity at firing ranges in the Twin Cities are soaring again in the aftermath of the nation’s latest high-profile mass shooting — the Dec. 2 killings of 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif.

Anoka County saw its daily number of new applications for permits to carry nearly double, from up to 20 a day to around 30 to 40, in the days after the California shooting, Commander Paul Sommer said. Dakota County sheriff’s Capt. Pat Enderlein said his office received roughly 26 new applications per day in the three days after the shooting, up from the 15 a day it averaged this year through November.

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From Nov. 30 to Dec. 7, Hennepin County received 167 new applications, compared with 90 over the same period last year — including 70 new applications on that Monday alone, Sheriff Rich Stanek said.

The surges mirror responses in recent years to other shootings, the gun control debate and election cycle, authorities said. But the increases don’t necessarily stem from a desire to be armed if confronted by a shooter, those in the gun industry said. Instead, they’re motivated more by calls from lawmakers to restrict access to certain firearms.

The reaction has brought comparisons to the months after the December 2012 shootings of 26 people — mostly children — at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. In Minnesota, as elsewhere, the number of residents with gun permits greatly expanded since, jumping from 114,774 in January 2013 to 208,190 as of Oct. 31 this year, according to the Minnesota Association of Defensive Firearm Instructors. Some are now bracing for a similar response.

“I would bet that our folks that put on conceal-and-carry classes will be very busy over the next couple of months,” said Scott County Sheriff Kevin Studnicka, who on Friday added that he has received 80 new applications to carry firearms in the week since the California attack.

Sommer said this week that one Anoka County applicant told him about trouble finding a permit-to-carry class with any openings.

“Whenever gun control rhetoric makes news, particularly after mass shootings, we see increases in applications,” Sommer said.