Gun enthusiasts said Minnesota’s permit-to-carry handgun law would deter crime. Gun-control advocates said the measure would increase it, spawning needless deaths. The statute appears to have done neither, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. 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. With the first reapplication deadline in effect this year, only about half the new permit-holders from 2003 appear to have reapplied. 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.
“Let’s face it – if you’ve got to buy groceries or buy a gun permit [for $75], most people are going to say, hey, buying groceries is a little more important,” Bellows said. “People are that strapped.” There’s a third possible factor: Many permit holders simply may have forgotten to reapply. The 2003 law assumes an applicant is qualified unless authorities can prove otherwise. Rather than go up or down dramatically since the law’s passage, the numbers of violent crimes reported to police have shown mild upticks or little evidence of change. “Gun injuries have (grown) in the last five years,” said Sue Fust 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.”