There have been more applications for pistol permits in Newtown, Conn., since last December's school massacre than the total number over the previous two years, it was revealed Tuesday.
There were so many applications that the town had to hire extra help to process them all, The Hartford Courant reports
Statewide, there was also a steep uptick in the number of permit applications as residents feared tougher gun laws would be enacted following last December's tragedy that saw 20 first graders and six teachers gunned down.
Newtown residents applied for 183 permits from January through May of this year, a 110 percent increase from the same period in 2012 when residents applied for 87 permits.
Town officials said they believed the shootings, which sparked a national wide debate on gun control, played a significant role in the increase of pistol permits and the likelihood that stricter gun control laws would be passed. Tougher state gun laws went into effect months later.
Statewide gun permits hiked beginning in March 2013, ending in September when police issued 18,233 new permits, a 17 percent increase over the same period in 2012.
The Courant's review showed that statewide permits peaked in July with 3,435 issued. In September, the number dropped to 2,089, but it was still higher than in any single month before 2013.
"Many people expressed their concerns even before the shooting that gun laws were going to change and there would be tighter restrictions on getting a gun permit,'' Newtown police records manager Robert Berkins told the Courant.
Monte Frank, of the Newtown Action Alliance, a gun control advocacy group, said he's not surprised.
"What we've seen in Newtown and in other states where there has been a push for new guns laws is that push has caused an increase in permits."
He also pointed the finger at the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, whose headquarters are close by. They have been "fairly aggressive in their campaign to promote fear in gun owners that new laws will take away their rights," he said.
Legislation passed this year
bans the sale of more than 100 types of military-style rifles in Connecticut, penalizes gun owners who don't register with the state police, and limits large-capacity magazines to 10 rounds. It also calls for tougher penalties.
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