A crowd of people gathered outside of the Wake County Sheriff’s Office on Monday morning, not to protest, but to apply for their government-issued permission slip to own a firearm.
The would-be gun owners are responding to a report by Sheriff Gerald Baker over the weekend that checks for pistol purchase permits could be delayed after an employee in the sheriff’s gun permit office has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The sheriff said the gun permit department will be working on a modified crew and schedule to process the hundreds of appointments in the next few days.
Baker stressed to the public that the person who tested positive did not have direct contact with the public.
Officials said 24,119 permit applications were received from Jan. 1 to Sept 13. 2,785 applications were received in the same time frame in 2019.
According to the sheriff’s department, 32,700 purchase permits were approved and delivered from January to Sept. 13 in this year alone — a significant increase from 10,499 from that time period in 2019.
The office is currently processing permits for the week of Aug. 3 and has 4,045 still in need of processing.
Baker’s office has already been sued over the lengthy delays in processing the purchase permits, which according to state statutes are supposed to be completed within 14 days. As Baker acknowledged, the checks are taking more than a month right now, though he insists there’s not much he can do to speed up the process.
“You can sue me all day but those numbers tell you it’s going to be almost impossible to service that number of applications with the processes in place, the background checks that are required in the 14-day period,” said Sheriff Baker.
I understand that when there are nearly 10 times as many applications as last year, the sheriff’s staff may be a little overwhelmed. That doesn’t change the fact that the law mandates that these applications get processed within 14 days. If the sheriff’s staff can’t handle the demand, then the sheriff needs to bring on more employees. If the sheriff can’t afford to do that, then the Wake County government needs to provide the necessary funding. And if they can’t or won’t do that, then perhaps it’s time for the state’s pistol purchase permit law to be repealed.
Actually, that should have happened long ago. That requirement is a relic of the Jim Crow-era in North Carolina, where it was used to deprive black residents of their ability to purchase a handgun if the local sheriff deemed them unworthy. The law should have disappeared along with segregation, but instead it remains on the books as a reminder of the racist roots of gun control.
We’ve seen a lot of headlines over the past six months about record-high gun sales, but the flip side to that story is the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans who want to purchase a firearm have been stuck in limbo thanks to ever-increasing delays in the processing of gun permit applications in several states. This isn’t just a problem in Wake County, North Carolina. Similar stories are already being reported from coast-to-coast.
Just a few days we reported here at Bearing Arms on the massive backlog in Illinois for folks that are applying for their Firearm Owner ID card (which is required in order to legally possess a firearm in the state), which the Illinois State Police blame on the surge in demand as well as a shortage of employees able to process the background checks.
These gun permit laws only add another layer of bureaucracy to the exercise of a constitutional right, and we’re witnessing their flaws firsthand at the moment. Violent criminals are illegally obtaining firearms without bothering to apply for a permit, but those would-be legal gun owners are left twiddling their thumbs while the sheriff tries to work through the backlog of thousands of applications.
From Oregon to Michigan to New York City, where the NYPD is currently scheduling appointments to apply for a gun license in September of 2021, the massive delays brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to get far worse in the months ahead, and that means that many Americans who’ve embraced their right to keep and bear arms are going to have that right infringed thanks to these nonsensical gun control laws and the bureaucratic nightmare they’ve produced.