Gun group sues Meck Sheriff over concealed handgun permits

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 5:41 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A group of gunowners and firearm advocates filed a lawsuit against Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden claiming his office is taking too long to issue concealed handgun and pistol permits.

Three people listed in the lawsuit applied for concealed handgun permits in Mecklenburg County over the last year and have waited months for appointments with the sheriff’s office.

Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone said that in addition to significant delays with pistol purchase permits, the real impact is that residents are not able to legally purchase firearms.

“People are utterly being denied to keep and bear arms at precisely the moment they need it most,” Valone said.

Records provided to WBTV in May show there had been 13,635 new applications for concealed handgun permits between January 1, 2020 and May 1, 2021 and an additional 4,976 renewal applications. At the time, the sheriff’s office stated 42 percent of those had been completed.

In May, the sheriff’s office was processing applications from December and the first available appointment to get fingerprinted wasn’t until October of this year.

State law requires that concealed handgun permits be issued or denied within 45 days and that applicants be notified whether it would be approved or denied in just 14 days.

“We have thousands of Mecklenburg County residents who are unable to obtain firearms for self-protection because he refuses to issue permits on a timely basis,” Valone said.

During an interview in May, Sheriff McFadden told WBTV that the delays were because of the unprecedented amount applications.

“It is not that the sheriff’s office is making it longer than it needs to be, it is that the numbers went up,” McFadden said.

McFadden said he’s hiring additional staff and has authorized thousands of hours of overtime to help catch up.

“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.

McFadden also claimed that the state law requiring the timeline was passed without any consideration about the impact on local sheriff’s offices. Valone said the requirements are clear.

“He needs to devote sufficient resources to the problem, other sheriff’s seem to be doing it just fine,” Valone said.

Valone also wrote a bill currently making its way through the General Assembly that would repeal the requirement for the pistol purchase permit. The bill has passed the House and Valone said he is working to schedule a vote in the Senate.

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