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PERMIT TO CARRY: Why is it taking so long for some?

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Reporter Alex Tejada speaks to the manager of Heartland Gun Club and Range

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- It seems nearly everything has become a bit more complicated this year.

One thing taking longer than it used to for many in our area is getting a permit to carry a firearm.

In March, the state of Minnesota had around 300,000 civilians permitted to carry guns in the state. The number is rising after a pandemic and civil unrest, convincing many people to become first time gun owners.

However, these owners are finding obtaining permits to carry very difficult.

"It's frustrating customers because everyone is reading articles from before the pandemic," said Kami Krueger, manager of Heartland Gun Club and Range in Rochester. "They are like 'This is what is says', but that's not what it's like anymore."

Unlike some states that offer constitutional carry, the state of Minnesota requires a permit to carry a firearm.

"It's hoops that people have to go through to exercise your constitutional right. We believe that if you are legally allowed to own again, you should legally be allowed to carry that gun without jumping through hoops," said Ron Doar, political director and vice-president of Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus.

Right now, those hoops are getting harder to jump through as sheriffs' offices are seeing more applications for a permit to carry.

"We average somewhere around 500. This year, we're up to 800," said Winona County Sheriff Ron Ganrude.

Permits to carry are still something you have to apply for in person. This has changed during the pandemic for things like marriage certificates or building permits.

"They've moved all of those from in-person to online but they intentionally left permits to carry out," Doar said. "If the pandemic is as dangerous as our leaders want us to believe it is, they should make this accommodation for gun owners."

While smaller counties have kept up with the increase in applications, others like Olmsted are backlogged.

"They have a few spots in November, but otherwise, it's really difficult to get a permit to carry," Krueger said.

Since the sheriff's office has 30 days to approve or deny, people are having to set up appointments to even drop off an application. Setting up an appointment could require months of waiting.

"I think Olmsted County's issue is they don't have enough windows opened up for people to come and apply," Doar said. "Therefore, they are having to wait several months, being denied their second amendment rights in the process."

Sheriff Kevin Torgerson told the radio station, KROC, that despite three staff members, his office cannot keep up with the overwhelming amount of permit to carry applications. The office has considered adding staff but says that any decision to do so is still being discussed.

"If counties are getting more than we are, I would say they would need additional staff," Ganrude said. "We would need additional staff if it continues to rise."

Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge tells us that like Winona County, his office is also seeing an increase in permit to carry applications but has so far kept up with the demand with current staff.

Alex Tejada

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