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7,600 concealed carry permit applications waiting to be processed in Mecklenburg

Medical offices that review mental health checks, including Veteran's Affairs, are to blame for the delay, sheriff's office claims

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — If you are looking to get a concealed carry permit in Mecklenburg County you can expect a long wait time because there are thousands of applications still waiting to be processed.

The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office said they are doing everything they can to get permits issued but the delay isn’t with their office. They cite medical offices, including Veteran’s Affairs, with the delay.

 “When I first got mine it took about 3 months and now I think it’s at least double that,” Ron Pruette, who has been a gun owner for the last 50 years, said.

He got his concealed carry permit 15 years ago and it was renewed last summer.

The process was all online. So it was easy to complete but it took between 7 to 8 months to get my permit,” he said.

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There are currently about 7,600 concealed handgun permit applications pending in Mecklenburg county. All applications received after February 3rd are waiting for mental health releases from one or more facilities, according to the sheriff’s department.

The estimated wait time for an application's competition depends on how quickly the hospitals return the releases.

In Mecklenburg county, they send the applications to five different mental health facilities.” Irwin Carmichael, a concealed carry permit instructor and former Mecklenburg County sheriff, explained. "So that is the delay in the process right now

Carmichael said informed his class upfront there is about an eight-to-nine-month wait at this time.

Once the sheriff’s office receives all of the documentation from the investigative process, they have 45 days to issue or deny the permit. The sheriff’s department said it is in compliance with the North Carolina General Statute.

"It is the staffing with the VA that is the issue," said Carmichael. "At least that is what they are stating. It is not on the sheriff’s office. It is on getting those mental health checks.

Despite the frustrations he is hearing from people, Carmichael said the mental health checks are necessary.

“I hate that it is taking this long but I’m glad that the process is there because all of the boxes are being checked and we are making sure that person is qualified to have a firearm and to have a concealed carry weapon,” Carmichael said.

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Purchasing a gun

A permit to purchase a gun takes about 14 days to process once the application is submitted.

“It was court-ordered back earlier in the year and the sheriff’s office is complying with it," Carmichael said. "They are being processed within the timeframe.

Mitch Hyatt, the vice president of Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, is seeing the customer demand.

 “We always see different sectors of our industry - hunting, self-defense, hobby shooting - and they always move differently," Hyatt explained. "Right now, we are busy on all sectors."

He said the length of time to get a concealed carry permit has improved since the height of the pandemic.

“During the COVID period, they got really bad with over a year wait,” Hyatt said. “It got back closer to normal with the three-month wait, which people were happy about, but now it seems people are back to having a hard time.”

There are concerns from customers.

There’s [definitely] a business impact to us if people have to wait but really we just feel for them,” Hyatt said. “Especially for the military veterans who should be able to go right through. They have earned every right and they are having to wait so long. It is so hard to see that frustration.”

Carmichael said there are benefits to the concealed carry permit. It includes a required class to conceal carry. The class explains the laws, regulations and safe handling of a gun.

 “A concealed carry permit [in North Carolina] is good for five years and it is also good in 37 other states,” Carmichael explained. “It also acts as your purchase permit.”

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The path ahead

With the current backlog, Carmichael said gun owners do have options.

There are some folks that are going ahead and getting a purchase permit and in the state of North Carolina, you can open carry," Carmichael explained. "I recommend this in my class... Open carry until you can conceal carry.”

The number of newly-submitted applications is slowly decreasing. Carmichael said the decrease should help with the backlog.

The number of applications for Concealed Handgun Permit: 

  • MAY - 1,089
  • JUNE -1,284
  • JULY - 832
  • AUGUST - 870
  • SEPT - 694
  • OCT - 528

From the beginning of the year, there have been 322 applications denied, according to the Sheriff's office.

Contact Jesse Pierre at jpierrepet@wcnc.com or follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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