There’s no doubt Minnesota’s seen a big jump in the number of handgun permits issued by county sheriffs. But where are those guns?
On a raw count, you’ll find many in the Twin Cities metro area. Out of 114,793 valid permits issued through the end of 2012, about half are in the seven county metro.
A different picture emerges when you compare the data to a county’s population. Here’s a map with county-by-county data on permits to carry a gun per 1,000 people. Mouse over the dots to see the numbers.
These are valid permits from applications received May 2003 to December 2012 and valid on or before December 2012. Here are the numbers in chart form.
We tend to talk about a divide between metro area and greater Minnesota when it comes to gun culture and gun laws.
Looking at handguns, though, we may have to rethink that discussion. Handgun ownership in the rural parts of southern, western and northwestern Minnesota look pretty similar to the metro area when population is considered.
If you counted all valid permits to-date (125,339) and used the Census 2012 population estimate, Minnesota averages 23 permits to carry per 1,000 people.
Again, the data are limited to weapons where a permit is required — handguns and military-style assault weapons. Permits aren’t required to buy rifles or shotguns.
But if you’re focused on the current debate on gun laws, there are many rural areas of Minnesota that are not really part of the handgun culture.
Note: We took the data from the Department of Public Safety Permit to Carry report (page 251). That counts 114,793 valid permits issued through the end of 2012. Including those issued so far in 2013, the BCA counts more than 125,000 valid permits. We used 2010 Census data for county populations.