INDIANAPOLIS — An analysis of Indiana State Police data shows the number of state residents who hold active licenses to carry handguns has grown by nearly 50 percent since 2012.

The Indianapolis Star analysis (http://indy.st/2bZQZGH ) also shows an increase in the number of Hoosiers who want the option to carry a handgun in public. The state approved more than 50,000 carry permits in the first three months of the year. That’s more than half of the total number of permits approved in 2015.

The number of women holding permits has also skyrocketed. By the first quarter of 2016, more than 174,000 Hoosier women held permits, up nearly 90 percent from the roughly 92,000 women who held permits in 2012.

According to the data, populations in rural areas tend to hold more active permits, while that number falls in urban areas and college towns.

Morgan County Sheriff Robert Downey said his rural area is low on crime, but carry permits have a public safety utility.

“We may be 15 to 20 minutes away in the worst case scenario,” he said, referencing law enforcement response times.

Authorities say applications for permits tend to spike after highly-publicized mass shootings, and ensuing talk about gun control.

“Anytime there is an issue in the news where politicians are talking about limiting people’s right to bear arms, that proportionally usually results in an increase in people buying licenses to carry,” Indiana State Police Capt. Dave Bursten said.

But there’s no evidence that gun permits deter crime, or elevate it, said Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University who studies gun ownership.

The newspaper analyzed data kept by the Indiana State Police regarding handgun permit holders. In Indiana, residents do not need a permit to buy a gun or to carry a rifle, and permits are not required to go target shooting or to keep guns at home. Permits are needed only to carry handguns in public.


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com