Minnesota saw an uptick in applications for permits to carry handguns in 2023, but the number of people approved stayed the same, according to a new report from the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The statistics were laid out in the Permit to Carry Annual Report from the BCA, which compiles data from each county's sheriff's office. The report lists how many approvals, denials and pending cases there were by county, explains why each denial or suspension was made, and lists the revenue and costs from the permit system, among other information.

Applications increased by 10.6%, from 70,443 in 2022 to just under 78,000 in 2023. Despite the increase in applications, about the same number of permits were issued, with 65,215 granted in 2023.

More than twice as many applicants had a pending application at the end of 2023, with 11,979 pending cases at the end of December 2023, compared with 4,315 in 2022.

Last year's numbers remained far below the spikes seen in 2020 and 2021, when there were 96,554 and 106,488 permits to carry issued, respectively.

In 2021, Minnesota gun shop owners and sheriffs linked the state's increase to the intense political climate during the 2020 election season, fears caused by the pandemic and unrest after the police murder of George Floyd, which led to massive racial justice protests and riots.

The report contains data only on permits to carry a gun; the state does not track permits to purchase them, the BCA said.

The number of new permits in Hennepin and Ramsey counties decreased in 2023. Hennepin County, which issues more than any other county, issued 7,363, a 14.7% decrease. Ramsey County had a 10.7% decrease.

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said he thinks the findings for his county are a positive sign.

"Gun permits are often a reflection of the fear that a community has," he said. "Not all the time, but it is a factor, and our crime is actually level or reducing here on our side of the river."

The rate of permit denials remained low — 1% of applications, or 789, in 2023. That's down from 1.2% the previous year. The rate has hovered around there in recent years: 1.5% were denied permits in 2021 and 1.1% in 2020.

The report found 222 permits were suspended, 51 revoked and 1,307 voided in 2023 after the holders were convicted of a crime that made them ineligible to possess a firearm.

There are now 402,520 people who have valid permits to carry handguns in Minnesota, up from 395,626 in the previous year. The report is available online at dps.mn.gov/divisions/ooc/news-releases.