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Sheriff's Office trying to keep up with demand as gun permit requests spike

The Gaston County Sheriff's Office said pistol purchase permits spiked by more than 9,000 between 2019 and 2020.

GASTONIA, N.C. — People attempting to obtain gun permits in Gaston County and Mecklenburg County are facing weeks, even months, of delays as demand for permits continue to surge into the spring.

The Gaston County Sheriff's Office is paying its employees overtime, and adjusting operating hours to cope with the demand for permits.

"People get upset when it's an extended time," Assistant Chief Deputy Mike Radford said. "They call up here numerous times, and they just want [the permit]. They don't see the increase and the steady numbers."

In 2019, the Gaston County Sheriff's Office processed 6,595 pistol purchase permits and 3,871 concealed carry permits.

In 2020, the sheriff's office processed 16,358 pistol permits and 6,193 concealed carry permits.

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"The way our office is set up, it does not accommodate that big increase," Asst. Chief Deputy Radford said.

According to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office, deputies are still processing pistol purchase permits from November 2020 and concealed carry permits filed in October 2020.

According to some experts, the ongoing debate over strengthening gun laws has fueled the spike in purchases.

"They'd rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it," Asst. Chief Deputy Radford said.

While many are hyper-focused on what Capitol Hill will do regarding gun legislation, Gardner Webb University Assistant Professor of Politics Elizabeth Amato, Ph.D., said people should focus on the Supreme Court.

RELATED: Meck Sheriff has received more than 24,000 gun purchase permits since March

"The Supreme Court has been pretty clear on what the Second Amendment protects," Prof. Amato said. "The Second Amendment protects the right to possess firearms for the purpose of self-defense in the home."

Given the hyper-partisanship in Congress, Amato doubts any significant gun legislation will be passed in Congress, and if any bills do get passed, it'll face immediate legal challenges in the courts.

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