Five days after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., a local gun store had its busiest day ever.
Elmore’s Firearms in Greenwood has about a quarter of the guns that it normally stocks, and sales have increased by 200 percent as buyers worry about restrictions lawmakers could soon place on the guns they buy, store owner Russ Elmore said.
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on Dec. 14, local police and gun store owners have heard from residents worried state and federal lawmakers who want to cut down on gun violence will stop allowing lifetime gun permits, which allow them to carry a firearm outside their homes without having to renew it every four years, and will make it harder to buy guns capable of holding a large magazine.
In recent weeks, hundreds of residents have applied for gun permits at local police stations, and customers have spent thousands of dollars buying firearms at local stores.
Local residents are worried state lawmakers will take away lifetime gun permits, which allow them to carry a gun outside of their home without having to renew the permit.
Some also are concerned federal lawmakers will place more restrictions on certain guns that have higher capacity magazines, which means they can hold more bullets. Restrictions could include getting a federal background check and paying a tax per gun.
What is being proposed
No bills concerning gun control have been proposed yet at the state level, but federal lawmakers will start proposing bills Jan. 22. Those proposals could include changing the definition of assault weapons to include more firearms, requiring federal background checks for certain firearms and imposing federal regulations at gun shows, according to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. Visit www.nraila.org/legislation.aspx for more information.
How to apply for a gun permit
1. Fill out an online application for the Indiana State Police at www.in.gov/isp.
2. Visit a local police station to have fingerprints taken. If you live in Greenwood, New Whiteland, Whiteland, Franklin, Bargersville, Trafalgar or Edinburgh, go to your local police department. If you live in an unincorporated area of the county, go to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
3. Bring a driver’s license with your current address along with a money order or exact cash to pay state and local fees. Fee amounts and additional information can be found at www.johnsoncountysheriff.com/resources/gunpermit.asp.
At the sheriff’s office, more than 180 residents have applied for a gun permit since Dec. 14, Sheriff Doug Cox said. And at Elmore’s Firearms, one customer brought in a $10,000 cashier’s check and selected guns until the entire amount had been used.
The school shootings also have brought in residents who say they want permits and guns to protect themselves.
Cox said he’s seen more husbands bringing their wives in to get their own gun permits, and Elmore said about 40 percent of his customers in recent weeks are first-time buyers, including Franklin resident Jim Leonard.
Leonard looked for a handgun at Elmore’s Firearms last week, saying he wanted the gun so he could protect his family and feel safer when transporting money for his managerial job.
“I think everybody has the right and needs to protect themselves,” Leonard said.
A local state representative says residents shouldn’t worry about the removal of lifetime permits and has heard no discussion of any changes. But federal lawmakers will start proposing bills Jan. 22, and the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action says new gun control bills will be included.
Those bills could suggest changing the definition of assault weapons to include more firearms, requiring federal background checks for certain firearms and adding federal regulations for gun shows, among other proposals, according to the National Rifle Association.
The possible changes have caused local residents to buy guns and apply for permits in record numbers for the winter months, Johnson County jail administrative clerk Becky Harrington said.
Since Dec. 14, an average of 10 to 15 people a day have applied for permits at the Johnson County jail. Office employees are working extra hours to handle the increase, she said.
In December 2011, the sheriff’s office received 57 applications total.
Cox said, “Ever since the school shooting and the president talking, there’s been an influx of people coming in and getting gun permits. Everybody’s buying rifles from the gun stores. They’re thinking Uncle Sam will say, ‘No more.’”
Residents who apply for a gun permit have the option of getting a lifetime permit, which was introduced in 2006, or getting a permit they must renew every four years. To apply for a gun permit, residents must fill out a form online, pay state and local fees and get fingerprinted at a local police department.
Last week, Bargersville resident Levi Grant visited the jail to go through the process. He said he could have applied for a gun permit three years ago when he turned 18, but the recent shooting and the concern that federal gun laws could change made him take the final step.
“It’s your right. I’m worried about them changing things and making it harder to do. I want to get it while I still can,” Grant said.
State Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, co-sponsored the bill in 2006 that allows lifetime gun permits. He said he does not think state lawmakers will repeal it because the state already can take away permits from people who are convicted of felonies.
“Any time you use a gun in any violent act — robbery, assault — if you’re convicted of that, you lose your license,” Burton said.
Federal legislative proposals are raising concerns among local residents about what could change.
Elmore is watching for federal lawmakers to pass a bill that calls for more restrictions on guns that use high-capacity magazines, which carry more bullets.
Guns with high-capacity magazines have been used in public shootings, such as the one in Connecticut, but Elmore and Greenwood resident Norm Ashmore believe restricting them is unnecessary because people can use any gun in a public shooting.
“It’s about precision,” Ashmore said.
Ashmore said he thinks federal lawmakers will pass some form of gun control this year as a way to show the nation they take shootings seriously.
“They will do something because of politics,” he said.