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Much like the rest of the country, the Haywood County Sheriff’s office in NC has seen a sharp rise in the number of concealed carry permit applications. But employees have been more than overwhelmed since December 1, 2015 when the state expanded background checks and mental health checks in their application process.

Sheriff’s office employee Donna Henson, who processes the applications, said “Turnover time for a conceal carry permit from start to finish was generally 60 days. Now, we are required to be finished in 90.”

The Mountaineer reports:

“It is so busy that my appointments are pushing to the end of June. The sheriff wants the community to know we are working on it. This backlog is happening state wide, too,” said Henson. “Some of the counties I’ve talked to are pushing Labor Day [until they can take new carry and conceal appointments]. You used to be able to get an appointment within two weeks.”

“We just want to educate the public that we are diligently moving forward and getting them as quickly as we can. Sometimes we get people who call who don’t understand there is a process we have to go through,” said Henson.

There is a 14-day turnaround by state statute to either accept or deny a pistol purchase permit, but the level of background checking is even more in-depth when someone is looking to carry a concealed weapon.

“We used to be able to do it [pistol purchase permits] in literally 5 to 15 minutes, but now it can take two, three or four days because there is a more thorough background investigation from the mental health side that goes through the Clerk of Superior Court’s office,” she said.

The mental health background investigation process for a concealed carry permit requires officials check several different agencies, hospitals or doctors offices before moving forward.

Henson reiterates the backlog isn’t just because of the extensive background work required — it’s a huge spike in interest, too.

Henson said the call volume from those waiting for their permits to be processed has increased drastically as well, and is asking for patience from Haywood County residents.