In Iowa, the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office typically has about 50 to 60 gun purchase and carry permits to approve each month. But recently, things have been busier.
"In the last two weeks alone, we've had over 100." said Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo
Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo says it's a massive jump. He's not alone. Sheriffs in two other Siouxland counties are also seeing a boom in gun permit numbers.
In Dakota County, Nebraska the sheriff's office had eight handgun purchase permits to approve in October.
"December of 2012, 27," said Sheriff Chris Kleinberg.
And conceal/carry permits for handguns in Union County, South Dakota are up too.
"Last year, at this time I sold 24. This year, at this time I sold 110. So, it's been through the roof," said Sheriff Dan Limoges.
The sheriffs attribute the growth to the public's concern over encroaching federal gun control laws.
"The bottom line is people are concerned about what our federal government is going to do with our rights," said Limoges.
Changes are in the works. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, President Obama is pushing legislation that would ban assault weapons, put limits on ammunition, and create universal background checks.
"The only way that we are going to be able to do everything that needs to be done is with cooperation of Congress. That means passing serious laws," said the president in a meeting on gun control Monday.
Sheriffs say as the topic stays in the limelight, they expect the permit uptick to continue. More guns will be out there, but officials don't expect a problem. They're just asking people to follow the law.
A lot of focus has been paid to mental health background checks since Sandy Hook. In fact, Sheriff Van Otterloo says Iowa could make some improvements to their policy.
The sheriff says when issuing a conceal/carry permit, he has to check applicants for a history of mental illness. But says the database the state uses isn't as complete as it could be.
Van Otterloo says he often times has to rely on his in house records, which only pertain to Plymouth County.
He says he'd like a more complete system to guarantee people don't fall through the cracks.
"You know, the database is only as good as the information that is put into it. That's the only way, except for my local and in-house checking, to see whether or not an individual has had some mental health issues. I think we can do better there," said Van Otterloo.
Van Otterloo encourages officials across the state to put their data into the system. The more they use it, he says, the more complete it will be.
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