Gun Permits, Mental Illness Hot Topics After Tragedy

Locally, the affects of the Newtown shooting tragedy are still being felt.

Monday, a record number of people in both Douglas County and Sarpy applied for a gun permit.

As of the close of business Douglas County recorded a record 91 applications. In Sarpy County as of 4 o’clock Monday afternoon, the sheriff’s office reported they had received 35 applications. That’s double the normal amount in both counties.

Also in the spotlight after the Newtown shooting tragedy is mental illness.

Health experts said what happened on Friday was random and more than likely a result of an underlying mental health issued.

It was a busier than normal Monday morning inside the lobby of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office because of a high demand for gun permits.

Davin Holman was waiting to apply for a permit; he says it’s been a process five years in the making. Holman said he understood why there was a long line Monday. "I think the quantity of people that are out looking right now is heightened because of the recent events, people just want to be safe,” Holman said.

“The previous November, in 2011, we did 366. It's almost double in November [this year],” Douglas County Chief Deputy Marty Bilek said.

Bilek explained 2012 was already on track to be a record year in terms of gun permit applications, mostly because of President Obama’s re-election. Now, after Friday’s tragedy, Bilek said Monday would be a record setting day for permit applications in Douglas County.

“It's causing people in Omaha and all across the country, I'm sure feel unsafe, for themselves for their families, for their kids going to school and one way to react to that is to acquire a handgun and take matters into your own hands,” Bilek said.

Also in the spotlight after the Newtown shooting tragedy is mental illness.

Health experts said what happened on Friday was random and more than likely a result of an underlying mental health issued. Psychiatric expert Dr. Howard Liu with UNMC explained what happened in Connecticut tends to be random and rare. “It's not any kid who is depressed it's not any kid who is even a bully, certainly not any kid with autism or Asperger’s [Syndrome],” Dr. Liu said.

DR. Liu explained that not all suspects in violent attacks have mental health illness but it can be a factor. “If you see any of those warning signs you want to seek help earlier rather than later, because they more likely to get better,” Dr. Liu said.


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