Rogers gun applications soar

RogPoliceBadgeRogers gun applications quadrupled in mere days since the Dec. 14 Connecticut shootings.

Police chief Jeff Beahen said the department issued 23 gun applications from Monday, Dec. 17, to early Friday afternoon, Dec. 21, whereas the department had issued 69 applications in the previous three months.

The chief said the numbers of gun applications in Rogers reflect similar increases in Hennepin and Anoka counties.

“People are saying they’re concerned there would be restrictions on firearms purchases,” he said. “The president is promising (gun reform) would occur and I think people are overreacting to that as much as they can. It’s an emotional reaction to a very significant event.”

Unlike hunting rifles and shotguns, buyers need a permit to purchase handguns and assault rifles.

He said once a permit is received there are a series of checks and local records to see if the applicant was involved in incidents that would prevent their permit from being approved. The Department of Human Services is contacted to see if the applicants were ever court-ordered to be committed for mental health and chemical dependency issues.

“These are fairly rare, an order from the court saying you shall be taken into custody and taken to the hospital,” he said. Otherwise, he said, nearly everyone could be approved to purchase handguns and assault rifles, even people like the Connecticut shooter who have histories of mental illness.

“The Connecticut shooter is what I consider to be primary weakness of permits to acquire,” Beahen said. “There aren’t many court-ordered for mental health treatment but thousands committed by doctors for whatever reason for long-term health care. That’s not going to show up on the records.”

He said there is “absolutely” no discretion in the law and that it’s what exists in formal court orders and records.

The chief said he believes in and is not opposed to a person’s right to arm themselves.

“But the (spike in applications) is a typical emotional reaction,” he said. “I think that it only addresses those who protect themselves and not why someone who has issues is able to access guns. Is there a weakness in the wall?”