Over the past few days, most of the coverage here at Bearing Arms has focused on those elected officials who are doing everything in their power to ensure that their constituents can’t acquire firearms and ammunition during the current shelter-in-place orders across the country. However, there are plenty of law enforcement agencies around the country who are doing the opposite. They’re taking steps to ensure that concealed carry applications are still being processed and approved, and they definitely deserve some attention and recognition.
In Pennsylvania, the Blair County Sheriff’s Office is extending their hours of operation, since all concealed carry applications are now being done by appointment.
Sheriff James Ott noted that his office recognizes the difficulties of scheduling an appointment, and to address the inability of some people to make daytime appointments, evening hours will be offered from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.
An appointment is necessary; to make one, call 693-3100. Ott said the office is working to schedule appointments as soon as possible and he wanted to thank residents for their cooperation and understanding during the COVID-19 situation.
The Westmoreland County Sheriff is also planning on re-opening his office for those applying for concealed carry applications beginning Monday.
“We were getting a lot of blow back,” [Sheriff James] Albert said about his decision earlier this month to suspend the service as part of the county’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The permitting program will operate out of the sheriff’s department offices in the basement of the county courthouse by appointment only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 30. Residents seeking a permit must call the sheriff’s office at 724-830-3457 for an appointment. Upon arrival at the courthouse, they will be escorted to the sheriff’s office by a deputy, Albert said.
The decision to suspend the program originally was made in an effort to promote social distancing and reduce the number of visitors to the courthouse. After receiving complaints from the public, Albert revisited the decision and consulted with county lawyers, who determined that he was required to resume offering the permitting.
“Gun sales have been breaking records over the last two weeks and people want their licenses,” Albert said.
Down in North Carolina, Randolph County Sheriff Gregory Seabolt has set up a Mobil Command Center to ensure that residents can still have their pistol purchase permits approved.
According to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, gun permit applications in Randolph County have significantly increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of this, the Sheriff’s Office said it has been unable to reduce the number of officers needed in the Records and Permitting Division, as recommended by public health officials and requested by the County Manager. In addition, these applications have actually increased the number of citizens visiting the Sheriff’s Office.
With the Mobile Command Center now in the parking lot, permitting Officers are posted inside accepting and assisting with applications, as well as issuing purchase permits and concealed carry permits that have already been approved.
Now, the Randolph County Sheriff isn’t processing new concealed carry licenses because their fingerprinting has been suspended, but unlike the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, they are at least ensuring that residents can purchase a handgun during the declared emergency.
In Las Vegas, Nevada, the Metropolitan Police Department has opened up an online concealed carry application portal that allows for people to submit their information without having to come in contact with any office staff.
In order to use the online application, citizens much have already completed the safety course and received their certificate prior to filling out the application. Those certificates are good for one year, LVMPD said.
LVMPD’s new online CCW permit application allows people to electronically apply, remit payment and schedule their appointment, according to the release.
Kudos to these agencies and others that are getting creative in order to continue processing concealed carry licenses or pistol purchase permits. I think every gun owner (and would-be gun owner) understands the need for these law enforcement agencies to try to keep employees healthy and coronavirus free, but it’s clear that agencies can do so without simply putting a halt to all new licenses and permits. These sheriffs are doing the right thing, and they should be applauded for taking the necessary steps to ensure that their residents aren’t denied their Second Amendment rights during the current crisis.