Gun Permit Requests Soar in Dakota County; Sheriff Questions State's Gun Laws

Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows said Thursday that Minnesota’s permit-to-carry law allows some people with serious mental health issues to acquire firearms.


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 In the days after the , shooting, Dakota County has seen a big uptick in applications for permits to carry a pistol.

Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows said the county received 30 requests Monday and 26 Tuesday—about three times higher than the seven-10 applications processed in a typical day.

"We have the staff to handle" the upsurge in applications, Bellows said. But what does worry him is the fact that some of the people applying for permits may have serious mental-health issues. And under current law, there's nothing he can do about it.

“Since 2008, we’ve seen a significant increase from year to year, and this year is going to be the highest year ever,” Bellows said, predicting that the county would end up processing more than 2,500 applications in 2012, more than 70 percent greater than 2011.

Dakota County isn't unique; permit requests were up throughout the state in the days since last Friday and requests in Hennepin County more than doubled some days early this week, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

'Time after time after time after time, they’re young males and they have a history of mental health issues, and they’re not always involved in the court system.' - Sheriff Dave Bellows

Bellows said that only about 1 percent of all applications in Dakota County are rejected because Minnesota’s carry law doesn’t allow local law enforcement to look at applicants’ mental health records other than their criminal history.

“When you look at the mass shootings that occur time after time after time after time, they’re young males and they have a history of mental health issues, and they’re not always involved in the court system,” he said.

“I know that this is going to upset a lot of people, but if we’re trying to be effective in really screening the people who should not have weapons, there are a lot of people that were committed by their families as adolescents, or even as adults, that we won’t necessarily know have had mental health issues because it didn’t involve the courts.”

In Eagan, police have seen a more than 35 percent increase in mental health-related calls over the past five years. Suicide calls were up 65 percent in 2011 compared with 2007, and overdose calls had more than doubled, Eagan Patch reported in November.

Minnesota’s carry law has been on the books since 2003, though it was struck down by the courts in 2005 on a constitutional technicality before being reinstated by the legislature later that year.

Eagan Reader December 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Maybe instead of focusing the blame of this tragic case on the mother who was doing what she was capable of in respect for the care of her child, we need to address some of the other aspects (1) why was she divorced - a tragic trend of single parents raising their children solely within this country. Marriage must be a respected and protected right to both the mother and father, and not tarnished as a simple co-habitation "right" that is another dangerous current trend of the country and (2) if the teachers we trust and admire to educate and care for our students and children are allow to guide and nurture as educators do not have all the tools to perform this function why can we not as a country see that they obtain the necessary training and tools they need to fulfilling this function.
Eagan Reader December 21, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Maybe it is time for the government to create a few additional jobs that will actually do something - protect our most valuable interest - the future of our country - our kids. Why no arm a few individuals (teachers, administrators, volunteers) within a school - think of it as a TSA agent on an aircraft after 9/11/2001 or a safety and wellness representative for the private sector with the HR department. If not a gun then maybe a tazer type weapon that could assist and disarm an armed individual by force. Final Fact: A terrorist, that is what the CT shooter was, is not going to be stopped by a sign on a door asking one to kindly disarm prior to entering the building or sign in before proceeding past the office.
Brian Olwin December 21, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Regarding Sheriff Bellows comments about applicants, "They're young males and they have a history of mental health issues", Sheriff Bellows could you supply the source for this information please? unless these people were involved in the court system you would not know this, if they were in the system then you would have to deny any permit application correct? Sheriff Bellows you of all people should know that reacting to something based on emotion and personal opinion and not logic and facts will come back to bite you later. Based on your comments it sounds like you knew the applicants had mental health issues and you issued permits anyway.
Doug December 23, 2012 at 12:55 AM
'Time after time after time after time, they’re young males and they have a history of mental health issues, and they’re not always involved in the court system.' - Sheriff Dave Bellows If Sheriff Bellows knows this to be the case, he is empowered by the legislation to deny the permit, although I don't believe denial of a permit would stop anyone bent on murder. I think Sheriff Dave is just pontificating some hyperbole here.
Mike H December 24, 2012 at 06:47 PM
So what I am seeing is all Veterans who are more than trained in weaponry beyond what you see on your "call of duty" game are considered incapable of getting a permit because of PTSD. I personally feel that if you are afraid of something you have no right to comment about it. If you are afraid of the former soldier with PTSD then confront the issue do not skirt around it with bad legislation.


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