Gun permit denials increase as more look to buy firearms

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Eyewitness News has learned a police crackdown has kept hundreds of guns out of the hands of Hoosiers.

People are being denied the ability to own a gun, just as a record number of people are lining up to buy firearms.

Rachel Erkan tested her shooting skills using a Springfield .45 at the Family Indoor Shooting Range. Erkan, a pretty good shot, has already got her permit to carry a gun in Indiana. She hasn't bought a gun yet, but plans to soon.

"If I get a gun, I won't carry it around with me. It's something I'll keep in my house, locked up," explained Erkan.

The 26-year-old chef isn't worried she'll have trouble buying a gun, even though more people have been denied in the background check process.

"The stack of denials a year is about this tall," said Mike Hilton with the Family Indoor Shooting Range.

Hilton said the number of applications denied every year through his business has been small, compared to the thousands of buyers who get approved.

"You'll have individuals that didn't realize that they're still under a restraining order from a divorce five years ago and then they're denied," explained Hilton of the way potential gun owners can be rejected.

Often in situations like that, Hilton says the denial gets reversed.

But if a person has any kind of domestic battery conviction, a court has ruled they are mentally ill or they're a convicted felon, Hilton says, "a felony is a felony and you can't buy a firearm."

The background check system only works explained Hilton, if it's updated.

"You could just be released from Illinois on attempted murder charges and your indicted on attempted murder charges, come here, buy a gun, get approved and walk out the door, cause Illinois has not put the information in the system," Hilton explained of how people who shouldn't be able to legally own guns can slip through the cracks.

"We've got some people who've got some issues, who do not need to have a weapon," added Melanie Graves.

Graves said she's not one of them and has plans to buy a gun as soon as she learns how to use one.

"Mom already has a gun," Graves said, pointing to her mother who was with her helping her shop for a handgun.

At the Avon Police Department, they've seen the applications for people who want to carry a concealed gun quadruple from last year.

"This month, we've had 55 gun permits come in. In January 2012, there was only 12 gun permits and the year before that, seven," said Avon Police Department's Assistant Chief Bill Weems.

State police last year denied 2,028 gun permit applications statewide, or nearly double the 1,054 applications denied by the agency in 2009.

The numbers of people who want to own a gun and carry one have been growing, even in the wake of a national debate on gun control.

Erkan and Graves said they're planning to join that number as soon as they can.