"OMAHA, Neb. -- Applications for permits to buy handguns have more than doubled in Douglas County since the Westroads Mall shootings.
More than 100 applications have gone through the sheriff's office since the shootings.
After the nine deaths at Von Maur, people spoke repeatedly of the shock, fear and helplessness that they felt. The sentiment appeared in KETV.com's forum about the shootings." One poster wrote on Dec. 8: "I went out shopping yesterday for the first time since this happened. I visited four stores and I have to say it was a very daunting task. I was so nervous."
Some residents may be responding to their fear, filling out handgun permits and signing up for target practice.
"What we're seeing now is people wanting to defend themselves, be able to defend themselves," said Douglas County Chief Deputy Marty Bilek.
Bilek said his department issued 43 certifications in the week before the shootings -- in the week following, they issued 105.
"This is the largest spike we've ever seen," Bilek said.
Interest in concealed-carry permits is also up, though not as much, Douglas County reported.
The National Safety Council Omaha Chapter said it had canceled several training courses the last few months, but not in December.
"People are always concerned. They're just sad that it happened in Omaha, and I think they always want to know what they can do to help," said National Safety Council Omaha Chapter President Kay Farrell.
Some law enforcement officers said they are concerned, noting that people should have the right to own handguns, but those people also need to understand the risks and liabilities involved.
Bilek said that's why deputies heavily screen those who want a permit.
"For people who have sound judgment, and for people who have the proper training," Bilek said.
While permits to buy handguns may be up in Douglas County, they're not necessarily up elsewhere. Sarpy County, for example, said it has seen a small increase in permits issued, but they said it always goes up during the holidays because some people want to buy guns as gifts."