ANOKA COUNTY, Minn. -- Days after the school shooting in Connecticut, the Anoka County Sheriff's Office says a record number of people applied for gun permits.
Monday, the agency received 36 permit to carry applications. The prior record was 30 applications in a single day.
The increase is part of a year long rise in gun permit applications in Anoka County. Commander Paul Sommer says the Anoka County Sheriff's Office issued 2,498 permits to carry so far in 2012, compared to 1,655 of the same permits in 2011. The increase of more than 800 permits adds up to a more than 50 percent increase.
The Ramsey County Sheriff's Office did not see an increase in permit-to-carry applications since the Connecticut shootings, but is seeing a steady overall increase in 2012.
In 2011, the agency processed 1,420 permits to carry, and this year, it's an estimated 40 percent increase. Spokesman Randy Gustafson says the agency is on par to process and around 2,000 permits to carry.
"The trend we are seeing right now has more to do with the political rhetoric around the event than it does with the event itself," said Andrew Rothman, vice president of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance. "They come in because they fear lawmakers are going to punish law abiding people for the actions of law breakers."
Rothman's organization is now offering free handgun training to any school employee who has permission to carry in a school, and since the Connecticut tragedy, he's already had school employees in his firearms training classes.
"These items in the news are rare, but they remind people we don't know where danger is coming from. I have absolutely no problem believing teachers, like the heroic teachers in Connecticut, would do anything they can to protect my kids, but it breaks my heart that everything they could was so very little," he said.
Heather Martens heads up Protect Minnesota, a group focused on ending gun violence. She says a rise gun permits will not boost public safety.
"We have a right to be safe in our communities, people going and getting gun permits is not going to help that," said Martens. "I think one of the things people should take away from the Connecticut incident, if they were considering a conceal carry permit, is the first victim of that shooting was an accomplished shooter in a setting with a lots of gun, so the idea someone can intervene in a mass shooting or defend themselves effectively, is really a fantasy."
Martens says Protect Minnesota will now lobby state lawmakers to require background checks on all gun purchases. She says background checks are only requires for about 60 percent of gun purchases.
Currently, there are more 112-thousand gun permit holders in the state of Minnesota.
KARE 11 checked to see if this gun permit increase is a statewide trend. The BCA, which tracks gun permits by county, says background checks for gun permits aren't up since Connecticut, but once again, but are up significantly overall in 2012.
From December 14 to December 18, 2012, law enforcement agencies across Minnesota have conducted 2,351 background checks for gun permits. The same time period last year was 1,555 background checks. But, the week before the Connecticut shootings saw the highest amount of background checks this month in 2012, with 3,460 background checks.
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