With a waiting list of more than 6,000 residents who want to apply for their concealed carry licenses, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Sheriff William Mullen is getting a little creative in the hopes of easing the growing backlog. This coming weekend the sheriff will be holding a “drive thru” concealed carry event where residents can drop off their applications and get fingerprinted without ever leaving their car, and Mullen says he’s hoping the event will be successful enough for them to hold more.
Long lines of applicants are a daily recurrence at the sheriff’s office at the moment. With office hours limited to appointments only, and demand for the concealed carry licenses at an all-time high, Allegheny County residents who call to set up an appointment today are being told they can come in sometime in November.
“People (are) afraid of what’s going on in the country. The unlawfulness. The violent protests. They’re just really worked up about that,” said Sheriff Mullen.
“It makes you think. Yeah. About unrest. You don’t know where anybody’s going any more. You don’t know if it’s safe,” Keith Vangura of Pleasant Hills said.
Like most people queuing up in the courtyard, Keith Vangura of Pleasant Hills cities a new uneasiness in the country for the sudden rise in both permit applications and gun sales in the region, which have also taken off.
According to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, Sheriff Mullen is processing 84 applications every day, but simply can’t keep up with the high demand from residents like Keith Vangura. Keep in mind, these are new applicants for the most part, since Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has extended expiring concealed carry licenses for several more months.
Firearm permits set to expire on July 31 have been extended through Sept. 30.
Gov. Tom Wolf previously extended permits that were set to expire March 30 to July 31, but has now extended that expiration date until even further.
According to a release from state police, extending the permit expiration for licenses to carry is necessary due to the closure of some courthouses and sheriff’s offices, including ongoing COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Even with that move by the governor, which should lessen the demand placed on sheriffs, some jurisdictions like Allegheny County just can’t keep pace with the growing number of residents demanding to exercise their right to bear arms. The good news for those forced to wait for months simply to apply for their concealed carry license is that Pennsylvania does allow for the open carrying of firearms without a license, with the exception of carrying in the city of Philadelphia, where a license is required for open or concealed carry.
In a pinch, most Pennsylvanians who may be stuck in the concealed carry queue with their local sheriff can still lawfully carry their handgun out in the open. It might not be the preferred means of carrying for many, and it’s going to become nearly impossible to do once autumn comes and the temperature starts dropping, but for a moment it’s a workaround to the long lines and months-long wait for concealed carry applicants.