The number of people applying for handgun permits is on the rise in Noble, LaGrange and DeKalb counties.
Gun sales themselves have increased at The Mile Corner in Garrett, according to owner Dan Yarde. The owner of Flint Gun Shop & Trading Post in Angola, Jim Johnson, said he expects a run on both guns and ammunition in the fall.
Johnson and Yarde both said politics is behind the surge.
“People are really worried what politicians are going to get in there,” Yarde said.
The days leading up to the last presidential election had gun-rights enthusiasts literally up in arms four years ago. This year might produce the same results.
Two years ago, Johnson said, there was a run on ammunition when tighter controls were feared. He said some shops, but not his, ran out of some types of ammunition. He predicts the same sort of scenario later this year.
“It’s going to be worse in October,” Johnson said.
The number of people applying for handgun permits also has risen, according to a survey of local sheriff’s departments.
DeKalb County had forwarded 99 gun permit applications to the state through Tuesday for 2012, a figure more than half of 2011’s total of 173 permits. At the current pace, DeKalb would see 337 permits issued in 2012, a 95 percent increase.
LaGrange County is on a pace to see a 72 percent increase, with 87 permits passed on to the state through Tuesday. LaGrange County had 172 permits issued in all of 2011.
Through the first three months of 2012, Noble County averaged one permit per day. It’s a pace 22 percent greater than the prior year.
People who live in municipalities can go to their local police departments to apply for gun permits.
Auburn has seen a 44 percent increase if the current pace holds.
Steuben County had 17 gun permits passed on to the state in January 2012, putting it on pace for approximately 200 for the year. In 2011, Steuben County passed on 228 gun permits.
“Sales have been good again,” Yarde said. “We’ve had a big increase in sales.”
No permit is required to have a handgun on your own property, Yarde said. A permit is required to have a loaded gun when outside your home, even in a vehicle.
“To carry a loaded gun on you, you need a concealed carry permit,” Yarde said.
The shop owner said the permit’s title is a bit of a misnomer, as nothing in state law requires a person to conceal a handgun. Yarde said carrying a handgun for everyone to see is sure to attract unwanted attention, however, and some businesses or government buildings may have laws prohibiting the carrying of any weapons.
“It’s a good practice to keep them out of sight,” said Sgt. Ron Galaviz, public information officer with the Indiana State Police. “Sometimes things like that make people feel uncomfortable. It’s an intimidation factor.”
Every person who purchases a firearm must fill out a federal form. Those wanting to take a handgun home that same day, must fill out the form then wait while the licensed dealer calls the FBI for a background check. According to Yarde,
Most police officers have no quarrel with law-abiding citizens having guns, as long as they have permits and remain law-abiding. But at least some officers believe the public should undergo training to help them handle guns safely.
“I have no problem with responsible adults having a license,” Auburn Police Chief Martin McCoy said. “The key word is responsible. It would be great if there were some type of safety and awareness training required for first-time applicants.”
LaGrange County Sheriff Terry Martin agreed, saying even a four-hour course that explains applicable laws and safe handling would be beneficial.
“That’s the only thing I wish they’d do,” Martin said. “I’m a big proponent of the Second Amendment.”