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Requests of gun permits in Douglas County go through the roof

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 6:58 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The run on handguns in 2020 is continuing in 2021.

Last year, Douglas County saw record numbers of permits issued to buy a handgun.

Experts point to the uncertainty of a pandemic to the civil unrest and divisive election as the reasons why.

The Marksman Indoor Range, a four-year-old business in Waterloo, Nebraska would normally have all these cases full of handguns for sale.

Now, they sell them as fast as they arrived.

Clairissa Wight has been shooting since she was a kid. “I grew up shooting guns at my grandpa’s,” said Wight.

Today, she’s at the range to celebrate her birthday. “I’ve always liked doing it,” Wight. It’s a fun hobby.”

While recreational shooting is often near the top of the list as customer reasons for buying a handgun.

In 2021, gun dealers point to several other factors. The most recent being the riots at the U.S. Capitol.

“First it was COVID. Toilet paper, guns, and ammo, said Kirk Anderson, owner of The Marksman Indoor Range. Those are the things that went off the shelf quickly. And in today’s environment, it creates a little bit of fear and anxiety.”

After major surges in gun permits and sales in March and April 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, the biggest month for handguns permits turned out to be July.

Douglas County Sheriff Tom Wheeler said, “We saw a surge with riots and protesters. We just had an election in November and saw more gun permits in November as well.”

In the 10 minutes of interviewing the sheriff, five people walked in asking for handgun purchase paperwork.

“It’s more to even the odds, home protection, said Daniel Knowles. We don’t have to worry about someone coming in or a riot in the streets.”

“I did have a guy call today and said he was concerned with what’s happening nationally and that it’s a good time to get a gun permit,” said Sheriff Wheeler.

In 2020, the sheriff received 8,700 gun permit requests. That’s near twice as many as each of the previous years.

Back at the range, the owner says because of all the new sales, there’s a giant demand for introductory classes.

“One thing I can appreciate is with all the classes we’re having, they’re wanting to learn how to use them and how to use them safely and correctly,” said Anderson.

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