A bit of good news and perhaps a sign of things to come from Stark County, Ohio, where Sheriff George T. Maier is resuming processing concealed carry applications after briefly closing the office over coronavirus concerns.
Many sheriffs’ offices and city offices have suspended processing everything from concealed carry applications to wedding licenses in order to hopefully mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, but Sheriff Maier is the first I’ve seen to decide to modify the licensing procedure in order to ensure that residents can continue to exercise their Second Amendment rights at a time when many are feeling concerned and worried about their personal safety. Here’s what the sheriff is telling his constituents:
Sheriff Maier advised in an effort to ensure that we meet the needs of our community, we will be scheduling appointments for the issuance of a concealed handgun permit or renewal effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Appointments will be scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week between 7AM and 3PM. To schedule an appointment please call 330-451-1383. Applicants will be asked to remain in their car in the parking lot until their appointment time to ensure proper social distancing, and to allow time to sanitize the office between appointments.
Stark County isn’t exactly rural. The county seat is Canton, and there are nearly 400,000 residents. I don’t know if the sheriff is going to be able to meet demand with these new safety precautions, but it’s definitely an improvement over simply putting any concealed carry applications on hold.
I think this system would work even better in rural areas of the country, and could allow sheriffs to keep up with the growing demand for concealed carry licenses. The biggest issue would likely be finding an instructor offering concealed carry training at the moment. Trainers that offer private classes and have access to their own range are likely getting swamped with calls at the moment.
In fact, I spoke with Rick Ector, who runs Rick’s Firearm Academy of Detroit, earlier today and he says his phone is ringing off the hook. Many of the calls he’s getting right now are from first time gun owners, who may be holding a gun for the first time in their lives. Ector recommends that gun owners who are relatively inexperienced reach out to a local firearms instructor for a one-on-one consultation rather than simply assume they know how to safely and responsibly handle their new firearm.
I’m going to have a separate post on how to help new gun owners get some training and basic knowledge, but in order to get a concealed carry license we’re going to need issuing authorities to accept applications, even on a limited basis. If your local sheriff’s office has suspended processing applications, it might not be a bad idea to reach out via email or the non-emergency number to suggest moving to the system set up by the sheriff in Stark County. It’s not a perfect solution, but those seem to be in short supply these days, and it at least allows for the continuation of services, instead of the deprivation of rights.