Minnesota gun permit holders: Five justifiable firearm uses, 124 crimes on record since 2003

The BCA's numbers complicate arguments that gun permits deter crime.
The BCA's numbers complicate arguments that gun permits deter crime.

Since the "shall issue" permit law went on the books a decade ago, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has recorded five instances of permit holders justifiably using a firearm. During that same timeframe, permit holders have committed 124 firearm-related crimes.

-- More Minnesotans were killed in fist fights than by rifles in 2011
-- Christian Oberender, homicidal mom murderer, passed background check to buy guns

Making sense of those numbers requires context, but even so, they suggest the benefit some believe packing heat plays in deterring crime might be overstated.

As the Star Tribune reports, the "justifiable use" number cited by the BCA is low, as some instances have gone unreported. For instance, there have been three much publicized cases of permit holders legally using guns in Minneapolis since 2010, but city officials apparently didn't realize they're legally mandated to report those cases to the BCA until the requirement was brought to their attention by a reporter.

Furthermore, John Munson, owner of Bill's Gun Shop in Robbinsdale (Check out "John Monson, owner of Bill's Gun Shop: 'The bad guys don't really care what the law is'"), pointed out to the Strib that the BCA numbers don't include instances "when a firearm deters an actual crime from taking place."

"Visibility or knowledge of a firearm is a deterrent, but those don't get reported," Munson added.

But those caveats aside, gun control advocates argue that the BCA numbers reveal a fundamental flaw in the "more guns, less crime" philosophy.

Heather Martens, head of the gun control advocacy organization Project Minnesota, told the Strib: "The small number of these defensive uses [contradicts] arguments that were made for putting more guns in people's hands in public places. [T]hat was supposed to confer more safety, and it didn't."

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