Kevin Ellington has two school-age children, lives within sight of Lake Minnetonka and is a self-described pacifist who says he’s never been in a fistfight and has banned violent video games from his home. He’s also one of the area’s newest gun owners.
“For me, it’s about protection, and what happened in Connecticut was the final staw,” Ellington said less than a week after the shootings in Newtown. “I don’t want to be that guy who faces a burglar—or burglars—with a baseball bat. I don’t ever want to use it, but I’ve made peace with myself that I will if I have to in order to protect my family.”
President Obama introduced sweeping proposals on Wednesday that would tighten gun regulations and, among other measures, require background checks for all gun sales—including private sales.
President Obama's Gun Control Proposals:
- Obama Gun Control Proposals Unveiled, Marking Biggest Legislative Effort In A Generation
- Obama unveils sweeping new gun control proposals
- NRA Statement on Proposed Gun Control
Ellington is far from the only local resident taking up arms recently.
In a year that saw mass killings occur in the U.S. with unprecedented frequency, police departments throughout the Lake Minnetonka area saw steady streams of residents apply for gun permits in 2012. Several reported noticeable increases over previous years.
In Wayzata, a city of less than 4,000 residents, 64 applications for gun permits had been submitted through Dec. 26. The department processed just 34 during the same period in 2011.
The Mound Police Department has so far processed 111 total gun applications in 2012, including 13 so far in December. In all, six were denied. Beginning in January the City of Mound will contract with Orono for police services, where Orono Police Chief Corry Farniok said 90 gun permit applications had been submitted through Dec. 26—nearly double the number from 2011.
Deephaven Police Chief Cory Johnson said his department has received 41 applications for gun permits.
Unless precluded by circumstances such as a felony conviction, legal Minnesota residents can purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun at just about any sporting goods store, and gun shows take place throughout the state almost every weekend.
Legal Minnesota residents do not need a permit to purchase a rifle or shotgun, but do need to complete a permitting process to buy a handgun. Minnesota law does not require weapons to be registered with the state, and gun owners do not have to be licensed. Holders of handgun permits can also conceal their weapon (see comment below from Andrew Rothman of the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance for additional information).
For Ellington, securing a gun permit was “fast and easy” and cumulatively took just a few hours to complete.
“I don’t deal with the police very often, but everyone I came into contact with during the permitting process was helpful and courteous,” Ellington said. “I had this whole speech prepared about why I wanted to buy a gun, but I didn’t need it. Nobody gave me a hard time. One lady even said, ‘good for you.’”