Reports from around the country reveal that a number of state and local agencies are not approving concealed-carry permit applications in a timely fashion. In some cases, the delays are well past the time frames written into the application laws. The states and agencies that work with providing these services have generally blamed the same thing for the slowdowns: COVID-19 and associated problems with staffing.
As John Lott has documented at the Crime Prevention Research Center, the number of concealed-carry permits increased every year over the last decade through 2019. With the boom in gun sales this year, especially among first-time firearms owners, one would assume a surge in new carry permits, too. Instead, the number of new carry permits for 2020 has declined compared to past years.
“There is a simple reason that concealed handgun permits have not increased as much as gun sales: many states stopped issuing new permits for many months because of the [COVID-19] virus,” Lott reported.
In Michigan, for example, FOX2 Detroit found that concealed-carry applicants in Wayne County have experienced approval wait times up to nine months in length.
To give a specific example in Michigan, Kristal Hunt, who says she needs some protection, took the state’s required Concealed Pistol License class and filled out the necessary paperwork. But for the application to be finalized, Hunt and others must have a face-to-face appointment with a county official. Hunt recently received her appointment date—for July 2021!
“It seems like that’s the common thing in Wayne County; it’s barriers when you’re trying to go about things in the right way,” said Hunt.
Lisa Williams, spokeswoman for the Wayne County Clerk’s Office, cited increased demand for the permit, plus COVID-19-related staff reductions and displacements, for the long wait times.
A Wayne County statement read, in part: “Wayne County is the largest county in the state of Michigan. The volume that we service far surpasses that of any other county throughout the state. Our office has taken the action step to request additional fingerprinting machines which will expedite the processing time.”
Meanwhile, a person living in Illinois can’t even begin the process to apply for a carry permit or purchase a firearm until they are issued that state’s Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card. But FOID approvals have been taking so long that the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) filed a lawsuit in federal court this summer seeking to force the Illinois State Police (ISP) to comply with the mandated one-month requirement to issue a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card, if the applicant meets all qualifications.
ISRA is that state’s NRA-affiliated association. In a posting to its website, ISRA noted: “The law requires that the Illinois State Police either approve or deny a FOID card application within 30 days, but ISP has been dragging its feet, leaving applicants in limbo for months. In some cases, the agency does not act for as long as 90 days. These delays have gone on long enough. We had hoped to avoid litigation, but at this moment, we have no choice.”
In Wake County, N.C., a surge in applications prompted the Wake County Sheriff's Office to bring in five extra workers to help process record levels of pistol-permit applications this past August.
Wake County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Sefton noted that his office had issued over 5,000 permits in one two-week period this summer.
“That is just historic—it has never been done before,” said Sefton.