Handguns: 2012 a Record Year for Permits in Northfield and Rice County

Permits to purchase a handgun have double in Northfield since 2007.

Northfield and Rice County in 2012 saw a record number of handgun-related permits issued.

And it's not a surprise.

When Northfield Patch examined the numbers in May, the city and county were on pace for a record year.

The number of permits to purchase a handgun in Northfield have increased every year but one since 2006, according to data provided by the Northfield Police Department, which is responsible for processing and approving those permits.

In 2006, 46 Northfield residents were issued a permit. For 2012, the department issued 103 permits. Those numbers include both new permits and annual renewals.

Number of Permits to Purchase a Handgun Issued in Northfield Since 2007

Year Number of Permits Issued 2004 48 2005 54 2006 46 2007 57 2008 60 2009 75 2010 65 2011 93 2012 103

Interim Chief of Police Chuck Walerius said there's usually an annual increase at the end of the year because of gift giving. But he said last month's shooting in Newtown, CT, where 20 children and six adults were killed by a man armed with semi-automatic weapons, and the subsequent heated discussion of stricter gun laws, likely increased the numbers even more locally and elsewhere.

“There’s no doubt that from that shooting and some of the other ones that have happened recently that people are in fear of the government banning assault rifles,” he said.

And while assault rifles and handguns are quite different, Walerius said gun enthusiasts may believe if assault rifles are banned again, what's next?

“I think people are getting permits to purchase before the government (may enact) restrictions," he said.

In the days after the Newtown shooting, Rice and Dakota counties saw a big uptick in applications for permits to carry a pistol.

Rice County issued 307 permits to purchase a handgun in 2012, with nearly 20 percent of those coming in December. The county issues those permits to Rice County residents who don't live in a municipality. In 2010, the first year in which the county kept a record, the county issued 156 permits to purchase a handgun. That number increased to 214 in 2011.

Number of Permits to Carry a Handgun Issued in Rice County Since 2007

Year Number of Permits Issued 2007 97 2008 249 2009 263 2010 157 2011 189 2012 334


Number of Permits to Carry a Handgun and Permits to Purchase a Handgun Issued in Rice County in 2012


Permit to Carry

Permit to Purchase





































334 307

Last year the county issued 334 permits to carry handguns, not including permit renewals, according to data from the Rice County Sheriff’s Office. In 2007, Rice County issued 97 new permits. The number of permits spiked in 2009 with 263 issued before declining in 2010 to 157. Permits issued increased to 189 in 2011.

In may, Rice County Deputy Chief Dave Stensrud and other law enforcement officials attributed the early 2012 increase partly to uncertainty in federal politics and who would control the White House and Congress following the 2012 elections.

Need for a change?

Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows said the county received 56 requests the Monday and Tuesday after the Newtown, CT shooting—about three times higher than the seven to 10 applications processed in a typical day.

Bellows said he's worried 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 (in permits issued)," he said.

Rice and Dakota counties aren't unique; permit requests were up throughout the state in the days that followed the shooting and requests in Hennepin County more than doubled, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Number of Permits to Carry a Handgun Issued in Dakota County Since 2007

Year Number of Permits Issued 2007 455 2008 948 2009 1,217 2010 1,076 2011 1,407 2012 2,814

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 told Patch. “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.”

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.

Gun rights, politics and fear aside, Rice County's Stensrud said in May that he thinks residents just might be more educated on the issue than in years past.

“I think (people) in general are just more in tune with what their legal rights are and they’re more able to exercise them if they think are appropriate.”

Follow Northfield Patch on Twitter | Like us on Facebook | Sign up for our daily newsletter

Just_A_Guy January 25, 2013 at 11:53 PM
Resident, So if the mother would not have owned any guns the killer would not have wanted to commit murder suicide? I bet if we removed all cars from this earth we would no longer have DWI's where drunk people kill innocent people. But really, at the end of the day its not the cars fault. In New York state they are passing a law to make it a misdemeanor to have 8 bullets in a gun clip but its legal to have 7. Do you think this will deter someone about to commit a crime? Maybe if we would have had a gun law that made it illegal to have more than 1 bullet in a gun at a time and made it illegal to have the extra bullets within 50 feet of the gun, the person commiting the crime in conn would have spent so much time running back and forth between the gun and the bullets lives would have spared? And for all this you say "If it saves one life". People have the potential of getting in car accidents. Should we ban cars "If it saves one life"? Legitimately, banning the possession of weapons could minimize accidents, I'll give you that. However telling a law abiding citizen that 8 bullets in a clip is a misdemeanor and 7 is ok is a government overstepping its boundaries. I do understand that guns scare you. I understand that if we could remove all guns from the world then there would no longer be gun deaths. However, even you can admit this is unrealistic.
Jim Flaherty January 26, 2013 at 04:24 PM
Resident- I take it you do not own any firearms and that is just fine. That is your right just as it is my right to own as many firearms as I may choose. You are correct in saying that the last big tragedy the NUT used guns legally owned by his mother. It is unfortunate that his mother acquired the guns and trained her MENTALLY DISTURBED son in their use. It is also sad that a child killed another child with an unsecured firearm belonging to one of his parents or as you say PARANOID GUN NUT FATHER. Would you be so kind as to give your definition of a GUN NUT because I’m not sure what a gun nut is? You would like to know why anyone would need these powerful killing instruments. That is simple because as a citizen of the U.S we all have the RIGHT to own them, with the exception of criminals, drug users and other prohibited people. It is somewhat obvious that you are ignorant in the use of firearms and again that is just fine. I will let you know that each has its own purpose. Some are for target shooting, some are for hunting, some are for protection, some are for collecting and some are for fun. I don’t expect you to understand that and again that is fine. Where did I say I wanted armed guards in schools? You made that up and are using your First Amendment rights to spread lies. This is a violation of the First Amendment.
Jim Flaherty January 26, 2013 at 04:24 PM
You say “Our forefathers intended our country to move forward, progress, become more civilized – not go backward and become savages”. I believe air rifles and bow and arrows would be regressive not progressive. So often certain groups say that the founding fathers did not foresee semi auto firearms in the future and only intended the second amendment for hunting. Hunting was a way of life and a given if you wanted to eat. The second amendment was put in place to protect the people from the possibility of a hostel tyrannical domestic Government. Do you think our forefathers could imagine the communist leaders of a free economy China watching and listening to the Black President of the US in real time from 8,000 miles away? Many things have and will continue to change. Just because you don’t like firearms please don’t try to take away my rights. You never know you may need me to help you someday.Thanks
Jim Flaherty January 26, 2013 at 05:06 PM
If you would do some checking you would find the people that are willing to go through the correct channels to buy a handgun they do not commit crimes with them. And by the way the police do not have a gun to protect you they have a gun to protect themselves.
mark January 27, 2013 at 02:15 PM
I think a lot of these anti-gun nuts are the people who can't legally purchase or carry a firearm. They just want to level the playing field!!!!!!!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »