By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The state of Minnesota has set a new record for the number of criminal background checks for gun buyers in one month.

According to the FBI, there were more than 85,000 criminal background checks last month. That’s a jump of nearly 35,000 checks from January of last year, a 40 percent increase.

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“We’re seeing a lot of first-time buyers as well as people who have never bought a handgun before are buying,” said Dean Capra.

Capra, owner of Capra’s Outdoors Sporting Goods, says he is seeing a steady flow of people coming to his store in Blaine to buy a gun.

“It seems to me I see a lot more women coming in to buy guns, handguns specifically,” Capra said.

The increase has been so significant, Capra’s had to expand its gun display case to handle the number of used and new guns in stock.

“We see a lot of trades, too. If you look at our new guns versus used guns, it’s almost like a car lot. When a guy comes in, he’s got one, but he wants a new one,” Capra said.

According to the FBI, the state of Minnesota set a record for the number of criminal background checks for gun buyers in January 2017. A 40 percent increase in the number of criminal background checks from last year, and more than double from January 2015.

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The FBI tracks those numbers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, used to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms.

More than 230 million such checks have been made. More than 1.3 million of them have been denied.

“I’m a hunter, I’m a target shooter, just a gun enthusiast,” said Bob Ellis.

Ellis says he believes people want legal guns for different reasons.

“People are scared, people are breaking into homes, there is just a lot of crime around and people want to be able to protect themselves,” Ellis said. “A lot of people are just getting them to have them, so they will have them if anything changes or laws change,” Capra said.

In Wisconsin, the request for background checks in order to buy a gun was about 40,000 less than here in Minnesota.

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In fact, Minnesota performed about 10,000 more background checks for gun ownership in January than all our neighboring states combined.

Reg Chapman