Gun permit applications up in wake of Newtown shooting massacre


The Newtown tragedy has even some gun rights supporters saying it's time to take a closer look at the nation's gun laws.

Eyewitness News found gun permit applications up significantly in central Indiana. We also found there is little preventing someone suffering mental illness from legally owning and carrying a gun.

The number of Indianapolis residents applying for gun permits has about doubled since last Friday's shootings in Connecticut.

Many are renewing expiring permits. Amy Spooner has a different reason. She's now concerned for the safety of herself and young son. She fears the backlash of the unspeakable crime will change gun laws.

"I would rather have my permit now and know that I have the ability to carry, than wait until later and find out I can't," she said.

As of December 1st, IMPD had received almost 8,100 gun permit applications, a 36-percent increase from last year.

Local and State Police can verify answers concerning residency and criminal history, but when it comes to the question about psychiatric health and mental illness, applicants are taken at their word. If an applicant with a history of mental illness lies about it and answers no, authorities concede they have no way of checking up to see it that person is telling the truth.

Almost nine years ago, police detained a combative Kenneth Anderson and seized his small arsenal of guns. Anderson went to court, got them back, and months later killed his mother and Officer Jake Laird. The crime prompted the Laid Law, allowing police to take away the guns of people judged emotionally or mentally unstable.

"We are pretty much the only county that makes extensive use of that law," said Mark Sundquist, deputy prosecutor.

The deputy prosecutor says there are up to 500 active cases involving a variety of now former gun owners.

"Someone who is going through a divorce and got drunk and told his soon-to-be ex-wife they are going to kill themselves, to a guy who is hearing voices and is paranoid," said Sundquist.

Sundquist says more times than not in these Laird law cases, the court sides with prosecutors and police.

Indiana State police review applications, the recommendations of local police and, when warranted, issue permits. The vast majority are approved.

Of the more than 8,000 permits requested this year in Marion County, IMPD denied only about 450 of them.