Obama announcement prompts surge in local handgun permit applications

Posted by: Laura Wilson

LINCOLN–It was an eventful day for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, all the way up to the closing minutes of the day.

“We’re getting inundated with permits right now,” said Captain Joe Lefler, with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.

The spike in handgun permit applications comes the same day President Obama announced his executive actions to expand background checks for buyers, and require all gun dealers to be licensed.

"This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns.  You pass a background check, you purchase a firearm,” President Obama said as he addressed a room full of gun safety advocates and survivors of gun violence from the East Room of the White House.

Obama’s attempt to curb gun violence is already being met with criticism by Republicans.

Governor Pete Ricketts releasing this statement: “President Obama’s gun control plan will undermine the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”  

And Senator Ben Sasse, releasing this statement: “This approach will not end heartbreaking tragedies but it will poison public discourse."  

So how does this executive action affect handgun permits in Lancaster County?

According to the Sheriff’s Department, it doesn’t—at least not right now.

"It would have to be a lot more specific with the mental health aspect of it,” explained Lefler.

“From what I’ve been told about this current order, I don’t think it’s going to change the way we do business,” he added.

But the rise in handgun permits continues.   

Lefler says around 70 people applied for permits on Tuesday.

"There are days when we’ll go over 100 [permits] when there’s a lot of talk about it.  So, I’m expecting this week is going to be a busy week,” he said.

The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office has reported a steady increase in handgun permit applications over the last couple years.

In December, permit applications were up 3x what the Sheriff’s Office typically sees each month.