Minnesota sheriffs issue record of over 100K gun permits

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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ST. PAUL— Minnesota sheriffs issued a record 106,488 permits to carry firearms last year, the second steep annual increase in a row, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Tuesday.

The total was nearly 10,000 higher than the 96,554 permits issued across Minnesota in 2020 and more than double the 51,404 permits granted in 2019.

And the BCA said it was the highest total of permits granted since the Minnesota Personal Protection Act was enacted in 2003. The law generally requires sheriffs to issue carry permits to any applicant who passes a background check and completes a training course.

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The BCA’s annual report did not explore the reasons for the sharp increase, which raised the total number of valid permits held across Minnesota to 387,013. But Bill Hutton, executive director of the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, said that fear of crime is likely a major driver.

— Associated Press

“Given the increase in crime, and that individuals not only in the metro area but across the state are feeling a little less safe, some individuals may be thinking that if they get a permit to carry, they may be safer,” said Hutton, a former Washington County sheriff.

“Public safety is on the front of everybody’s mind,” said Rob Doar, political director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.

Doar, who also teaches classes required to qualify for a permit, said he and other instructors are seeing a “huge jump” in women and people of color taking the training.

The civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 prompted a lot of people to enroll, he said. He also said people are worried because the number of officers that the Minneapolis Police Department can field on any given day has shrunk dramatically since then.

“At the end of the day, I think people recognized that they’re responsible for their own personal security,” Doar said.

Another cause, Doar said, is that permits issued in past years are coming up for renewal.

Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, issued by far the most carry permits in 2021 at 16,888, followed by Ramsey County, which includes St. Paul, at 7,467.

While individuals with carry permits committed 3,863 crimes in 2021, the most since the permit law was enacted, that represented just 1% of all permit holders, according to the BCA, while just over 2% of those offenses involved firearms in furtherance of a crime. The BCA said more than 61% were for driving while intoxicated or other traffic offenses that didn’t involve the use of a gun.

Minnesota sheriffs reported that they denied 1,627 permits in 2021 and suspended or revoked 216.