PROTECTING THE PISTOL: Citizens apply the right to bear arms while they still can

COLUMBIA CITY — While the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting has made some Americans fear guns — it’s been nearly the opposite effect for local residents.As guns appear to be flying off the shelves, many citizens are exercising their right to bear arms, as President Obama created a gun task force Wednesday — with the potential for more gun control.The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department has seen a dramatic increase in gun permit applications. WCSD Chief Deputy Marcus Gatton said before the Sandy Hook tragedy, the department typically saw two to three permit applications per week.This week, between Monday and Wednesday, 22 applications have been filed with the department — not including the numerous phone calls of inquiries.“I’m afraid they’re going to make it more difficult in the future to be able to have our civil rights and freedoms,” said Max Herendeen, of Churubusco, who applied for a handgun permit Wednesday. “Some of our freedoms might be getting stepped on. The government is trying to be more in control.”Herendeen said he’s been thinking about getting a permit for awhile, but the Sandy Hook shooting made up his mind. “I don’t even own a handgun,” Herendeen said. “But if I want to in the future, I still want to have the right to do so.”The process is different for city and county residents. A Columbia City resident who lives within the city limits, must apply through the police department, not the sheriff’s department. Applicants must begin the process online by filling out the form at The sheriff’s department allows citizens to do the entire process in the office, but prefers applicants to fill out the initial paperwork online, when possible.For a more in-depth look at this story, see the Dec. 20 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook.