CHARLOTTE — An attorney filed a lawsuit Thursday after people claimed they have experienced extensive delays trying to get gun permits from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.
Some applicants said they have been waiting months to get approved.
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Resident Ophelia McRae said she applied for a gun license to protect herself and her belongings.
“I’m up in age,” she said. “I’m a senior citizen, and I live alone. And the way things are going right now, I would just like to have that safety in the house.”
McRae said she is familiar with guns and wants to own one legally. She submitted her application to the sheriff’s office in February.
“It’s taking longer than I wanted,” McRae told Channel 9.
The lawsuit filed against Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden and his office, says: “Defendant McFadden’s custom, policy and practice of refusing to timely issue pistol purchase permits and concealed handgun permits” violates the ‘North Carolina Constitution because the sheriff’s actions infringe on the right ‘of the people’ to keep and bear arms, rights that ‘shall not be infringed.’”
The lawsuit says concealed handgun permits “must be issued or denied within forty-five (45) days of the application and receipt of any necessary mental health records.” And pistol purchase permits “should be issued or denied within 14 days.”
Some people have been waiting for approval since 2020.
“People are utterly being denied their right to keep and bear arms at precisely the moment they need it most, because they are unable to buy a handgun without one of these permits,” said Paul Valone, with Grass Roots North Carolina.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office issued a statement Thursday that said, in part, “MCSO has been transparent and forthcoming about our inability to meet certain statutory timelines regarding the processing of gun permit applications since early on in the pandemic. MCSO has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of applications coinciding with the challenges of staff shortages.”
The sheriff’s office said that between March and June of 2020, it was receiving a monthly average of about 4,700 pistol permit applications during that same time.
The average the year before was a bit over 1,300. The department said staff members have been working thousands of hours of overtime in order to process those applications.
(WATCH BELOW: Meck County sheriff concerned about surge in conceal-carry gun permits)
Full statement from MCSO:
The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has yet to receive the lawsuit in question but does not comment on pending litigation. MCSO has been transparent and forthcoming about our inability to meet certain statutory timelines regarding the processing of gun permit applications since early on in the pandemic. MCSO has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of applications coinciding with the challenges of staff shortages.
- Between March-June 2020 the monthly average of PPAs climbed to approximately 4,698 which included an all-time high of approximately 6,425 in June.
In comparison, the monthly average PPAs in March-June 19 was approximately 1,389.
- November 20, 2020 registered the highest number of outstanding PPAs with approximately 13,434. In comparison, the number of outstanding PPAs on the same date prior to the pandemic was 192.
- Since July 2020, gun permits/registration staff has worked 2,686.6 overtime hours – equal to more than 111 days – to meet processing demands
- Other staffers within the division worked another 2,648.5 hours to assist with tasks such as fingerprinting to allow trained staff to process purchase and concealed permits
Unfortunately there also seems to be confusion surrounding the Concealed Handgun Permit timeline. Applicants interpret the permit should be issued within 45 days of the application; which is not the case. The permit is to be issued within 45 days from the date MCSO receives the approved application from other facilities (mental health facilities, SBI, etc).
I have attached detailed charts illustrating the Pistol Purchase Permit Process and New Concealed Handgun Permit Process as well as data showing the monthly breakdown and fiscal year impact.
Sheriff McFadden has personally responded to dozens of emails and taken calls from citizens regarding permit applications and understands the frustration during this process.
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