The number of Minnesotans legally permitted to carry firearms for personal protection reached an all-time high in 2014, with 184,895 active permits at year's end, according to the report from the state Department of Public Safety released this week.
The end-of-year total reflected a 14 percent increase over the previous year, according to the March 2 report from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehensions. There were 161,536 active permit holders at the end of 2013.
However, the number of permits issued in 2014 decreased from the significant spike experienced in 2013, when the number of permits issued nearly doubled the previous year's totals. According to the report, 41,493 permits were issued in 2014, compared to 60,471 in 2013.
Last year's total nonetheless was substantially higher that other recent years, indicating the number of Minnesotans wishing to legally arm themselves for personal and home protection continues to increase. There were 31,657 permits issued in 2012, 20,772 in 2011, and 17,240 were granted in 2010
Minnesota's Personal Protection Act was enacted in 2003 and permits were first eligible for renewal in 2008. To obtain a Minnesota Permit to Carry, individuals must apply for the permit at their local sheriff's office and provide proof of approved firearms training. Since the law was enacted, about 96 percent of gun-carry permit applications have been approved.
Just under 4 percent of adults in Minnesota currently have handgun permits, placing the state in the lower half of states in terms of the percentage of residents holding permits. About 12.3 percent of South Dakota adults have handgun permits, the highest rate in the nation. Nationally, about 4.8 percent of adults presently have handgun permits. According to this week's report, the total number of valid Permits to Carry in Minnesota is 189,075 as of March 2, which reflects an increase of 4,180 in the first two months of 2015.