SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — The mass shooting at a Texas church last year preceded a spike in handgun license applications in that county.
Records obtained by the San Antonio Express-News show that 222 gun license applications were received in November in Wilson County, where a gunman killed more than two dozen people and wounded many others in a Nov. 5 attack at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. That's a 167 percent increase over November 2016.
Another 175 applied for permits in December, which marked a 150 percent increase over December 2016, the newspaper reported
"After seeing the destruction somebody can do by themselves, and nobody stopping them, I thought, I need to do it," San Antonio firefighter Steve Bradbury said of his decision to apply for a permit after the church attack.
Records examined by the newspaper show that the number of applications statewide last year dropped by more than 37,000, down 10 percent from the previous year. But they have continued to climb since November and into the early months of 2018.
Authorities put the official death toll at 26 because one of the 25 people killed was pregnant.
The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after he was shot and chased by two men who heard the gunfire at the church.