Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fletcher's Follies, Part 3

Copyright 2008 Douglas J. Hester. This article may be freely copied, distributed and quoted, provided attribution is given to the author.

Part 3. Sheriff Fletcher’s Officially Reported Handgun Permit Denial Rate

Under the Minnesota Personal Protection Act that was passed in 2003, overturned on a technicality a year later, and re-passed in 2005, the county sheriff is responsible for issuing carry permits to qualified individuals. Applicants must be over 21, have a clean criminal record, and must have passed an approved training class. Once these requirements are met, the sheriff must approve the application, as opposed to the years before 2003, when the sheriff (or the local police chief) enjoyed complete discretion over the issuing of carry permits, and could approve or deny (the outcome in most cases) an application based on any criteria they chose. The law also requires that each sheriff report to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension once a year, recording the number of permit applications received in each county, the numbers issued and denied, the reasons for those denials, and the breakdown of the costs incurred by the counties in issuing the permits.

Comparing the handgun permit denial rate from county to county in the annual Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report is quite illuminating, particularly in terms of Sheriff Fletcher’s denial rate.

Here, totaled from the summary pages of the respective BCA reports, are the number of handgun permit applications and denials reported for Ramsey, Hennepin and St. Louis Counties for the years 2005-7. St. Louis County, where the city of Duluth is located, was included for comparison because the number of applications there is consistently quite close to the number of applications in Ramsey County. Hennepin County, which contains Minneapolis within its borders, is also listed as it is the most populous county in Minnesota, and hence generates the most applications of any county in the state.

By way of a sweeping comparison, all Minnesota counties combined (excluding Ramsey) had an average denial rate of 1.2 % in 2007.

As one can see by examining the tables, Ramsey County has consistently denied more than 11 percent of the handgun carry applications it has received, more than four times the rate denied by Hennepin County, which has the largest population in the state, and more than 11 times the rate of St. Louis County, which generally has a comparable number of applications. The question that immediately comes to mind is: Why is Ramsey County’s handgun permit application denial rate so much higher than comparable counties, or even counties with a higher population and presumably a much higher crime rate?

The answer to that will become quite clear in Part 4, where the most revealing portions of the BCA reports will be unveiled, as further study of the data turned up some truly shocking and disturbing facts. Stay tuned. The final chapter of the story is not to be missed.

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