Pat Cannon, 59, a production artist, is one of 103,000 Minnesotans with a permit to carry a handgun — more than 10 times the number a decade ago. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says they are part of a growing “carry’ culture in the U.S.: a record 8 million people who have taken on the means to use deadly force if they decide it’s necessary. Handgun owners have more freedom now than in nearly a century, with every state except Illinois offering average residents the option of getting a carry permit. In Utah, where gun laws are so liberal public schools can’t even prohibit them, one in nearly seven adults has a permit. In New Jersey, where local authorities have retained the discretion to deny permits, just one in 4,200 adults has one.
This spring, after the killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in Florida and a national debate over “Stand Your Ground” laws, Minnesota surpassed 100,000 permits, putting it in the numeric middle of the states, with one in 40 adults now licensed to carry. “There’s a big explosion in more people being interested,” said Evan Easton, a Twin Cities software designer who runs a side-business called Personally Safe and is one of the state’s 400 or so private, certified instructors of the 1-day course required to get a permit. “America has long had a gun culture, but now it’s becoming a carry culture,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law and author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”