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Wait for concealed carry permit in Mecklenburg takes almost a year

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 5:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - [INTRO]

People wanting to carry a gun for self-defense are facing a long wait for a government permit. Records obtained by WBTV show that in some cases in Mecklenburg County the total process takes up to a year.

Sam Cranston has been teaching classes to help people get their concealed carry license for about a decade.

“I would say the interest is probably ramped up a little bit since the beginning of last year. I’ve noticed it usually picks up before or leading up to election cycles,” Cranston said.

To get a concealed carry permit in North Carolina, you must take a class and then apply for a permit from the local sheriff’s office, which involves an online application and getting finger-printed.

“If you’re in Mecklenburg County, expect it to be about a year from the time you take the class, get an appointment to start your application and then the application will be processed,” Cranston said.

Records received by WBTV from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office show that process is taking an incredibly long time.

“It’s not that the Sheriff’s Office is making it longer than it is cut out to be. It is that the numbers have went up,” Meckelnburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said.

Since January of 2020 there have been more 13,000 new applications and nearly 5,000 renewals. About 42 percent of those have been completed.

McFadden says he’s hiring additional staff and has authorized thousands of hours of overtime to help catch up. WBTV asked him what else he could be doing to get through applications more quickly.

“We are going to hire more staff. But as we hire, the demand is still there,” McFadden said.

“Every application that we work on that is, that is an application that we’re catching up on. We’re trying to catch up, but the volume is still coming in,” McFadden said.

Right now, the sheriff’s office is currently processing applications from December and the next appointment to get fingerprinted isn’t until October of this year.

The process is supposed to take just 90 days and under state law the sheriff’s office is supposed to notify applicants whether their permit will be approved or denied in 14 days.

McFadden told WBTV that the state law requiring the 14 day time frame is unattainable without additional resources.

However, other, less populated counties haven’t had the same backlog.

“We deal with a lot of customers from Gaston County, counties surrounding Mecklenburg, and most of those people are getting their permits in the normal 90 day window,” Cranston said.

Cranston says there isn’t much his customers can do.

“It’s shocking to most people, but that’s just the way it is,” Cranston said.

“The thing I try drive home is say it’s going to take that long regardless of whether you delay or start now. So you might as well just start.”

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