A record-high number of permits to carry a handgun were issued last year.
That's according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's Permit to Carry Report, which shows Minnesota sheriff's offices issued 71,156 permits last year – the highest number in a year since firearms permit laws were implemented in 2003, a news release says.
That figure is also up 59 percent from 2015. Here's a look at how many handgun carry permits have been issued for the last five years:
- 2016 – 71,156
- 2015 – 44,696
- 2014 – 41,493
- 2013 – 60,471
- 2012 – 31,657
In 2016, sheriffs reported they suspended 122 permits, revoked 56 and denied 658. The report goes into detail about why these permits were denied, suspended or revoked. You can read more about it here.
The BCA says people with permits to carry committed 1,495 crimes in 2016 – more than 80 percent of them were drunken driving or other traffic offenses.
As of March 1, the total number of valid permits to carry in Minnesota is 265,728. That's up from Dec. 31, 2016, when there were 260,317 valid permits to carry in the state.
Why did gun permits spike?
Historically, applications for permits to carry and permits to buy guns have gone up following a mass shooting and lawmakers' calls for tougher gun laws, Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff's Office told GoMN. Those concerned about their 2nd Amendment right then go out and apply for a permit.
This could explain the spike in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie told GoMN, who added, "I am not sure I can point to that but offer it as one theory."
Sommer said the aftermath of the shootings in San Bernardino and at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando caused a "similar, but less dramatic spike in new applications" when compared to 2013. However, Leslie said he doesn't have a theory on why the number spiked in 2016.
GoMN has reached out to the Minnesota Sheriff's Association and the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance for further comment, and will update the story if we get more.
For more on Minnesota's permit to carry laws, click here.