HARTFORD, Conn. — Pistol permit applications in Newtown, Conn., skyrocketed in the five months after the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, exceeding the entire totals for both 2011 and 2012.
The jump in Newtown, where 20 first-graders and six adults were shot and killed Dec. 14, mirrors a statewide increase in the months after the shooting and as the Connecticut Legislature debated tougher gun-control legislation.
Newtown residents applied for 183 permits from January through May, a 110 percent increase from the 87 permits sought a year earlier. Connecticut towns award temporary permits. The state then awards the full permit.
Statewide, the number of new pistol permits issued by state police rose steeply beginning in March, reflecting a lag time after applications are submitted to local authorities. From March to September, state police issued 18,233 new permits — a 78 percent increase over the same period in 2012.
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New statewide permits peaked in July, with 3,435 issued. By September, the number had dropped to 2,089, but that figure was still higher than in any month before 2013.
Through October of this year, Newtown residents applied for 253 permits. Applications totaled 172 in 2012 and 99 in 2011.
Applications must be approved by the local police chief. In Newtown this year, all were approved except three.
Town officials said they believe the Dec. 14 shooting played a role in the increase, as well as concerns over the likelihood of stricter gun control-laws being passed. Tougher laws were passed in April but did not go into effect until months later.
“Many people expressed their concerns even before the shooting that gun laws were going to change and there would be tighter restrictions on getting a gun permit,” said Newtown police-records manager Robert Berkins.