DULUTH, MN-- Minnesota law enforcement issued more firearms permits in 2020 than any year before, and it's not even close.
Nearly 97,000 permits to carry were issued in Minnesota last year. That's compared to 2019, when about 51,000 permits were issued.
Permits in St. Louis County increased as well.
Chad Walsh, the owner of Dead On Arms, has been teaching permit to carry courses in St. Louis County for the last three years.
"For the permit to carry course at Dead On Arms, it's about 2.5 hours. Then there is shooting afterward because you have to qualify," said Walsh.
Classes cover how to properly handle a firearm and how to legally protect yourself in your home or public place. In 2020, Walsh said more people came to take the course.
"This last year we had close to 3,100 students. It is an uptick," said Walsh
In order to be granted a permit, you must go through the county sheriff's office for approval.
St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman said this year, more permit requests came across his desk.
"We issued just under 4,400 permits, which was a record year for us," said Litman.
In 2019, St. Louis County issued 2,891 permits compared to the 4,376 issued in 2020.
"What happened in 2020, obviously we had the riots down in the Twin Cities, a lot of unrest and violence in the country. I think clearly some people applied in 2020 for those reasons," said Litman.
Litman said he believes politics and free time during the pandemic also played a role in the uptick.
"It is an uptick. People are a little nervous about what's going on in society. We are in interesting times, so people have come to the realization that they might have to defend themselves," said Walsh.
Walsh also said it's been a very diverse group of people taking his classes, with men and women of every race looking to get a permit.
"They have come to the realization that you know what law enforcement is minutes away. Stuff happens in split seconds," said Walsh.
Permits are renewed every five years.
Currently, in St. Louis County nearly 17,000 people hold a permit to carry.
According to Sheriff Litman, 20 people in the county had their permits taken away last year.