Purchasing a handgun in Mecklenburg County could take four months. There’s a delay in the permit process.
North Carolina recently changed its law to require mental health checks for people trying to buy handguns. That step means the applications must be sent off to the Clerk of Courts Office.
The Mecklenburg County Clerk’s Office says it doesn’t have the manpower or the technology to get that data quickly, so the sheriff isn’t able to meet the required 14-day turnaround to let people know if they’re approved for a gun permit.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael said, “We’re just unable to do that now, until we have all the information back, and I’m always going to err on the side of safety. We’ve got to have all the information back before we issue the permits “
Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court Elisa Chinn-Gary issued the following statement:
Our office has mobilized all available resources to address the explosive demand. However, those resources alone are insufficient to prevent delays. Our current wait time is four months. I have requested additional supports from state and the county officials and am exploring technology enhancements to expedite requests. We appreciate your patience and offer our sincere apologies for the delay.
As of Monday, May 2, Clerk Chinn-Gary has made the following steps:
- Hired one full-time employee dedicated exclusively to processing gun permit applications;
- Requested and received authority from the Administrative Office of the Courts to hire two full-time temporary employees to process gun permit applications;
- Initiated an overtime project funded by a federal NCHIP grant to update the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. Each week, 19 staff members work an average of 339 cumulative hours reviewing more than 7500 files; and
- Partnered with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office to identify and put in place technology enhancements to streamline the application process.
“The recent demand placed on the Clerk’s office to process mental health records is unprecedented,” says Chinn-Gary. “We greatly appreciate the collaborative response from other governmental partners to find both short- and long-term solutions to this high-volume demand. We are also grateful for the patience of our Mecklenburg County citizenry.”