Some Would-Be Gun Owners Still Waiting Months For Gov't Approval

We’ve written extensively about the months-long delays that would-be gun owners in Illinois are facing thanks to a backlog of more than 100,000 FOID card applications, which are required in order to legally possess a gun in the state.

It’s not just Illinois, though, where government-mandated licenses or permits are causing thousands of individuals to put their rights on hold while they wait for the state to process their application to exercise a constitutional right. As the Charlotte Observer reports, residents in North Carolina’s most populous county are also waiting for months to be able to buy a handgun.

Charlotte-area sheriff’s offices that issue both permits to buy and carry a gun and to carry a concealed handgun report backlogs of two to six months.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office is currently processing applications from August, according to its website.

A 67-year-old lifelong Charlotte resident who bought a pistol at Hyatt Gun Shop last week told the Observer he finally received his first-time permit last week after a six-month wait.

“You just need to be prepared,” the man said about why he bought a gun for the first time. He asked to remain anonymous because of safety concerns for his wife and himself.

According to data provided to the Observer by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, nearly three times more people applied for concealed handgun permits in December compared with December 2019 — 1,113 applications last month and 475 applications in December 2019.

The number of applicants in November more than doubled from November 2019, according to the sheriff’s office data: 1,307 in November 2020 and 576 in November 2019.

Purchase permit applications rose from 1,638 in December 2019 to 2,076 in December 2020, and from 1,571 in November 2019 to 3,032 in November 2020, according to the data.

In order to buy a handgun in North Carolina, it’s not enough to pass a background check at the point-of-sale. Thanks to a law that’s a relic of the Jim Crow era, would-be buyers have to apply for a pistol purchase permit, which can be denied by a local sheriff based on subjective concerns over “suitability.” That process is supposed to be completed within 14 days, but some residents are now waiting ten times as long as the law allows.

That’s reason enough for the law to be scrapped, in my opinion, but the fact that law-abiding citizens are being left to twist in the wind while criminals continue to arm themselves illicitly is simply unconscionable. Ideally lawmakers would act to repeal the state’s permit-to-purchase law, though Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would likely veto any repeal that got to his desk.

That leaves hope for relief in the hands of the courts at the moment, and while there have been numerous lawsuits filed challenging the delays in North Carolina, so far none of the legal fights have come to fruition.

I can’t help but wonder how many residents who are otherwise law-abiding are choosing to ignore the pistol purchase permit requirement and quietly getting a gun from a friend or family member instead of waiting for months to receive their government-issued permission slip. Gun control activists may not want to admit it, but the pistol purchase permit statute is likely creating law-breakers thanks to the unwillingness or inability of counties to process their purchase permits and concealed carry applications in the time mandated by state law.