Weather Forecast


Guns sales, permits increase after talk about banning assault-type rifles after school shooting

With talk of a renewed ban on assault-type rifles following the shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, gun sales have gone up the past few weeks.

"There have definitely been a lot more people looking," said Kay Kiehl, manager of 59 Trade Roads, a pawnshop on Highway 59 near Detroit Lakes.

"Everybody is talking about how assault rifles are going to be banned. They're looking for clips and high-capacity magazines, they're basically looking for assault-type rifles -- the Bushmaster .223, SKSs..."

Her pawnshop doesn't deal with many of those types of guns, mostly regular hunting shotguns and rifles.

Some of the purchasing frenzy is due to market speculation, she said.

"It was like when Winchester was going out of business and two or three people would clean out the whole inventory at Walmart, thinking that the value would rise triple-fold," she said.

After 26 children and staff died at Sandy Hook Elementary School, several Republican congressman went public with their desire for legislative action on assault weapons.

The Obama Administration picked up on it, and Vice President Joe Biden was named to lead a commission to recommend legislation.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek was among law enforcement leaders that met with Biden on Thursday.

Stanek, president of the Major County Sheriffs' Association, says people with severe mental illness should never have access to guns. He's pushing for improved law enforcement access to mental health records for background checks and for those responding to 911 calls.

The National Rifle Association weighed into the debate on Friday, blasting gun bans as ineffective and blaming intense media coverage, lack of a national of mental health database and violent video games for mass shootings.

The NRA called for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to protect students.

Becker County Sheriff Kelly Shannon could not be reached for comment Friday, but gun applications are way up in Otter Tail County.

Concealed-carry permit applications in Otter Tail County are up 25-percent over last year's numbers, and gun-purchase applications are up even more, according to the Fergus Falls Daily Journal,

In 2011, there were 400 conceal and carry permits issued in Otter Tail County, but there have been 499 issued through Dec. 19 this year.

There were 356 purchase permits issued in 2012, but that number has already reached more than 470 this year.

According to the latest figures from the State Department of Public Safety, nearly 3 percent (or 1,650 residents) in Otter Tail County have permits to carry.

In Becker County, nearly 2 percent (650 people) have permits to carry, according to KDLM Radio. The latest compiled figures are a year old, from 2011. There are no known figures on how many people actually own guns in Minnesota.

Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost is in charge locally of approving concealed carry permits.

On Tuesday, 15 applications came in, he said. "Usually we have five or six a week," he told the Grand Forks Herald.

Similar stories have come in across the region since the Connecticut shooting.

In Cass County, which includes Fargo, the number of licenses issued went from 681 in 2011 to 981 so far this year. In Clay County, which includes Moorhead, the number went from 115 in 2011 to 235 so far this year.

In Roseau County, Minn., applications for permits to purchase a handgun are "up a lot," said Tara Halvorson, civil process clerk for the county. "I mailed out eight of them today."