Firearms permit requests 'through the roof' -
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 12:30 am / Updated at 2:05 pm
Firearms permit requests 'through the roof'

The Douglas and Sarpy County Sheriff's Offices this week have seen a record number of residents seeking certificates to buy firearms.

Douglas County Chief Deputy Marty Bilek said Tuesday that the number of people seeking firearms certificates to buy handguns has caused his office to rearrange staffing and even add overtime hours to handle the load of requests.

“The shootings last Friday in Sandy Hook (Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.) really sent requests through the roof,” Bilek said. “We're having record days.”

Meanwhile, several major firearms retailers, including Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela's, are rethinking sales of the rifle reported to have been used in the massacre.

Bilek attributed the interest in getting handguns to expectations that the Obama administration will seek tougher gun control laws in its second term, along with concern for personal safety in light of the school rampage that took the lives of 26 people — mostly children.

Even before the shootings, requests for handgun certificates were high.

“In November, we had our biggest month since 1991, when we began issuing firearms certificates,” Bilek said. “It used to be guys in feed caps with pickup trucks applying, but now it's businessmen, doctors and mothers with strollers, who feel the government might not be able to protect them like it did.”

The Sheriff's Office averaged 38 requests a day for firearms certificates in November, Bilek said. On Tuesday, a record 115 handgun certificates were requested and 108 issued. That broke Monday's record of 91 people requesting certificates and 86 issued.

Capt. John Kucer of the Sarpy County Sheriff's Office said 41 certificate requests were made Monday and about 80 on Tuesday, which is also a record. Typically, the county averages 20 to 25 requests per day, he said.

“We'll monitor the situation and see if this is an anomaly,” Kucer said. “Otherwise, we might need to make some (staffing) changes.”

To be issued a firearms certificate in Nebraska, applicants have to pay a $5 fee and pass a background check that can take as little as 15 minutes.

Felons, illegal immigrants, people with protection orders against them and those with domestic violence convictions are among those not eligible to purchase a handgun.

No one is allowed to sell or give away a handgun — except to a family member — unless the receiver has a firearms certificate.

Local retailers who sell guns, including all five Sol's Jewelry and Loan locations, said they're seeing an increase in interest in firearms. Sol's General Manager John Dineen cited the same reasoning as Bilek for the uptick in gun interest.

“Election years are always great years for gun sales because you never know what's going to change,” Dineen said. “Ever since the concealed weapons law came out, gun sales are on the increase. I probably helped 10 people today who came in to learn more about guns.”

Nebraskans since 2007 have been allowed to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun.

The shootings in Connecticut have caused some national gun retailers and organizations to tread carefully.

The NRA on Tuesday issued its first comment on the shootings, saying its 4 million members, which include “moms, dads, sons and daughters,'' were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.

“Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting,'' the statement said. “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.''

Several major firearms retailers said they are rethinking sales of the rifle model reported to have been used in the shootings.

Cabela's is still offering Bushmaster AR-15 rifles for between $729.99 and $1,039.99 each on its website. But the company notes on the page, “This firearm is not available for sale at our Connecticut store.”

Cabela's did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc., the largest U.S. sporting goods chain, suspended sales of modern sporting rifles nationwide in the wake of the shootings, as the massacre's victims are mourned.

Sales of all guns have been stopped at its store closest to the shooting, the Coraopolis, Pa.-based company said Tuesday.

“We are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week,” the company said in the statement. Dick's is removing the guns “out of respect for the victims and their families.”

Dick's representatives didn't return phone calls or emails seeking more information on how long the ban would be in place.

Meanwhile, private-equity and hedge fund firm Cerberus announced Tuesday that it would sell its stake in the country's largest gun maker after one of the company's guns was used in the Connecticut shootings.

Cerberus said it was putting the company, Freedom Group, up for sale. That announcement came just hours after one of Freedom Group's largest investors, the California teachers' pension fund, said it was reviewing its investments in gun companies.

Cerberus, based in New York, is owned by the billionaire financier Stephen A. Feinberg. His father lives in Newtown.

World-Herald staff writer David Hendee contributed to this report, which includes material from the New York Times.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1272,

Contact the writer: Kevin Cole    |   402-444-1272    |  

Kevin Cole covers workings of police, courts and government and writes features about interesting subjects in Omaha and the surrounding counties.

Sweet deal on suite use has MECA board looking at written rules
Teen who worked as a cook killed in shooting at Benson's Gallagher Park
Finally. Spring expected to return, stick around. No, really: Warmer-than-average weather in forecast
Home alone: When burglar broke in, 12-year-old locked herself in bathroom, called 911
City Council OKs redevelopment plan for north downtown project
Inmate accused of partially tearing off another's testicles charged with assault
Crew working to disassemble International Nutrition plant
Lawyer: Man had right to hand out religious fliers outside Pinnacle Bank Arena
Firefighters put out duplex blaze in N.W. Omaha
Woodmen request would take nearly $40M in valuation from tax rolls
Coffee with a Cop set for Thursday in Benson
In TV ad, Shane Osborn says Ben Sasse 'beholden to Washington'
Douglas County offices accepting credit, debit cards
Ben Sasse raises more money than U.S. Senate foes Shane Osborn and Sid Dinsdale
Parched Omaha soil soaks up record precipitation
Engineering student harnesses girl power, starts engineering-science club at Gomez Elementary
WB Dodge Street lane closed
Ex-Omaha Mayor Hal Daub endorses Shane Osborn for U.S. Senate seat
New Doane College program promises free tuition for first class
No more last-minute hiring of Omaha Public Schools teachers
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Lunar eclipse was visible in the Omaha area
2 arrested in west Omaha hotel TV thefts
You can tape a cable TV access show at new city-built studio in Omaha
< >
Breaking Brad: What do the moon, Colorado senators have in common?
How about that "blood red" moon Monday? It was as red as the eyes of a Colorado legislator.
Breaking Brad: Hey, Republicans, are you ready to be audited?
A quick list of audit red flags: 3) You fail to sign your return. 2) You fail to report income. 1) You are a registered Republican.
Breaking Brad: Next year, Bo Pelini brings a mountain lion to the spring game
Before the spring game, Bo Pelini carried a cat onto the field. With Bo's personality, it'd have been more appropriate for him to carry a mountain lion.
Breaking Brad: Bo Pelini's cat lets spring game intro go to its head
Coach Bo Pelini took the field before the spring game holding a cat aloft. Typical cat. He was undoubtedly thinking, “Sixty thousand people, all cheering for me!”
Kelly: 3 former Nebraskans all take seats at the table of international diplomacy
Three former residents of the Cornhusker State are working together at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and one took part in a recent high-level meeting about Ukraine.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
$25 for a $50 gift card to use at Schweser's!
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »