Skip to comments.Gun law's one sure outcome: paperwork (MN Carry Permits)
Posted on 11/24/2008 3:16:58 PM PST by ButThreeLeftsDo
Gun enthusiasts said it would deter crime. Gun-control advocates said the measure would increase it, spawning needless deaths.
But Minnesota's permit-to-carry handgun law appears to have done neither, according to an analysis of state crime statistics. Instead, it has accomplished something else entirely in the five years since it was enacted: It's kept clerks at sheriffs' offices hopping busy with paperwork.
In anticipation of the five-year renewal deadline, the Dakota County sheriff's office added a second clerk to handle permit applications and background checks for residents who wish to carry their guns in public.
But the rush hasn't been as heavy as expected.
New applications are still brisk; renewals, not so much. In fact, with the first reapplication deadline in effect this year, only about half the new permit-holders from 2003 appear to have reapplied across the metro area.
The right to bear arms, it seems, can be a big load both on the wallet and on the wardrobe.
"My sense is that a lot of people went out and got the permit for the first time, but they realized that, one, carrying a weapon is heavy. It's burdensome, especially in plain clothes," said Chief Deputy David Bellows of the Dakota County sheriff's office.
"I wear a weapon in plain clothes many times, and it tears up my sports coats. During the summer, when you're wearing lighter clothing, it's even more difficult to conceal," Bellows said.
A second possible factor for the decline in renewals? The $75 fee. "Let's face it if you've got to buy groceries or buy a gun permit, most people are going to say, hey, buying groceries is a little more important," Bellows said. "People are that strapped."
Then there's a third possible factor: Many permit holders simply may have forgotten to reapply.
Enacted by the Legislature in 2003, the permit-to-carry law (sometimes referred to as conceal-carry) upended what had been a long tradition of allowing local law enforcement officials broad discretion in determining who should be allowed to carry a handgun in public. The law adopts a "shall issue" philosophy that assumes an applicant is qualified unless authorities can prove otherwise.
From the moment an application is received, the clock is ticking. Sheriffs' offices have 30 days to show there's basis to deny a permit, or one is automatically granted. The decision rests on a 10-point background check that takes into account firearms training and criminal and mental health history.
For renewals, the law requires a refresher course in the rights and obligations of handgun owners, as well as practice time on the range.
As of Dec. 31, 2007, just more than 51,300 permits had been issued about half as many as some opponents and supporters had projected. Statewide, a fifth of the 416 permit denials, suspensions, revocations and voids that took place in 2007 were appealed and reversed. Other predictions also have fallen by the wayside. Rather than go up or down dramatically since the law's passage, the overall numbers of violent crimes reported to police have shown mild upticks or little evidence of change, according to data from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Minnesota Department of Health.
Tallies for gun crimes are mixed.
The numbers of murders, accidental deaths and suicides involving firearms have stayed fairly constant for years; assaults and accidental injuries involving guns have increased. But so has the size of the general population, especially in the metro area.
"Gun injuries have (grown) in the last five years," said Sue Fust, executive director of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota, a St. Paul-based gun control group. "We can't make any causal claims, but it is a fact."
Minnesota Department of Health epidemiologist Jon Roesler said gun violence was on the rise before 2003, as were violent assaults not involving guns. A large share of the increase in gun assaults has occurred in the metro area, with Hennepin County and specifically Minneapolis being a hotspot. A disproportionate number involve males ages 15 to 29.
"The question comes up do we want to link this to 'carry and conceal'?" Roesler said. "I don't know, but my hypothesis is, (the demographics) look different. ... I have a suspicion most of these permits are obtained by middle-aged men."
Peter Bergstrom, a past president of the Dakota County Gun Club, is skeptical that any increases in assaults can be traced back to the permit-to-carry law.
"Everybody was all upset when they passed the law five years ago 'There's going to be shootouts!' and it never happened," Bergstrom said.
"Typically, people who have conceal-carry permits are good citizens," Bergstrom said. "They don't cause trouble. If you're going to the trouble of taking a class and filing for a permit, you're following the law."
In Dakota County, the sheriff's office received more than 1,100 permit-to-carry applications in the last six months of 2003, when the law took effect. The numbers of new applications plummeted to half that the following year while the law was in repeal but have climbed fairly steadily since, with an estimated 900 new applications expected in 2008. Renewals are projected to number 600 for the year.
Inspector Ken Schilling of the Hennepin County sheriff's office said those results are fairly reflective of what his office has experienced.
"We certainly anticipated more, just because of the volume in 2003," Schilling said. "It could be the fad has worn off for some people, maybe. Or they realize it's more a burden than it's worth, carrying a concealed weapon. ... There's certainly responsibility that comes with a weapon."
Some officials believe permit holders are missing the renewal cutoff five years and 30 days from the date of issue and being counted as new applicants.
Bob Rodke, a Woodbury firearms instructor and member of the Oakdale Gun Club, said he oversaw six students recently in a refresher course. Of them, four had missed the deadline.
"All of a sudden, people wake up and realize, 'hey, wait a minute, my permit ran out,' " Rodke said. For many, that's a $25 loss: the renewal fee is, at maximum, $75, while new applications cost up to $100.
John Monson, owner of Bill's Gun Shop and Range stores in Circle Pines and Robbinsdale, said many gun enthusiasts were too cash-strapped this summer to concern themselves. Many had filed for the permit in 2003 for philosophical reasons, as opposed to practical ones.
"There's a percentage of people who wanted to do it because it's their civil right. They wanted to do it because they could," Monson said. "But they really never had any intention of carrying a firearm. ... It was a new thing that they couldn't have (before)."
Nevertheless, Monson and other firearms safety instructors said their renewal classes have been well attended. Joe DeSua, an instructor from Apple Valley, said he asks all his students why they want a permit.
"The vast majority of the (responses) are: 'It's my right. I want to be able to exercise my right to self-protection,' " DeSua said. "I don't think that the vast majority of them are carrying a gun 24/7."
It's not for everbody, that's for certain. It IS for me....
Well, sounds like the fee worked in favor of the gun-grabbers; I had forgotten that part of the 2nd Amendment --
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, so long as the people pay the $75 fee."
...or $100 for first-timers....
I carry concealed all the time here in Colorado. The permit is expensive but not exorbitantly so, and its worth it in my opinion. We too have a 5 year permit and you can bet I will renew mine. My brother was killed in a circumstance that if he was carrying he would be alive today.
You all realize I hope that the police are not mandated to protect you, in fact they can refuse to go into a situation that they feel is not safe for them and it’s perfectly legal for them to do that so says the Supreme Court. That being said who is going to protect you? Yourself that’s who.
So very sorry about your brother, St.Mark...
And, yes, most of us are aware that we, alone can protect ourselves in most cases.
I carry a gun, because I can’t carry a cop.....
A very complcated way of saying that the murder, accidental death, and suicide rates have gone down.
Figures don't lie, but liars can figure.
It could be........
Along with the powers that be in Dakota County.
(Note....I live in Dakota Co.)
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