Conceal carry permits rising
Vance County Sheriff Peter White said his deputies can’t be everywhere at once, and he would not dare suggest that a law-abiding citizen should not own a gun.
As White prepared those remarks for a community watch gathering last week, county citizens were keeping sheriff’s office personnel busy with processing permits for handgun purchases and conceal carry certifications.
Throughout the counties of Vance, Granville and Warren, signs are that firearm ownership and self-defense preparation is trending upward.
Sheriffs of all three counties say they have made preparations and adjustments themselves to keep up with the demand. Knowing ahead of time what is required for the two different permits will help newcomers to navigate the permit process.
“We have a whole lot of new gun owners here, especially new female gun owners,” White said. “I want to encourage everyone to be very careful where they keep their guns, and to be especially careful to keep them away from children.”
White said the purchase permit applies to handguns. Rifles and shotguns can be purchased without a permit.
Wanting to purchase handguns, Sharina Wiggans and Trittany Turner were there together so they could sign as character witnesses for each other. Ronnie Briggs and Jason Reynolds came together for the same reason.
Reasons for making gun purchases that they expressed included news of local rapes and carjackings, other local violence problems, and societal trends on a wider scale that include threats of stricter gun laws.
“We are only going to use a gun if we have to,” Wiggans said, adding that she has family a family member in the field of law enforcement.
“We value gun safety,” Turner said. “My mom is going to take me to a gun range for practice.”
Briggs said he owns guns for hobby and self-protection reasons.
“They are being hard on the gun laws,” Reynolds said. “Proposed laws hurt the wrong people.”
Although the state requirement is for a permit application to be completed within 30 days, White’s office has a dedicated staff that has shortened that turn around time to one week.
“I believe that is a good service for our residents,” White said. “A good majority of people have no problems with their backgrounds.”
Granville County Sheriff Brindell Wilkins Jr. said his office also has cut the purchase permit turnaround time.
“We try to keep it to within a week,” Wilkins said. “We have a high volume here, but if we get too busy, we bring up more of the girls from the back of the office. It’s all in how you take care of the situation.”
Warren County Sheriff Johnny Williams said he has seen the trend for more permit applications, but his office does not keep track of exact numbers.
“It is all done by hard copy,” Williams said. “Over the past year, they’re up. I know they are on the increase.”
According to White, the handgun purchase permits ran at 539 for 2011, and at 961 for 2012. There were 332 permit applications in January and February.
Wilkins said that the winter months are busier for permits, then there is a yearly slowing trend through the summer before the handgun purchase rate goes up again in the fall. Gun purchases are a Christmas gift idea for many, and winter gun shows are popular, he added.
In 2011, Granville had 971 purchase permit applications, with the trend down some to 795 in 2012, according to Wilkins.
“It has picked up some in the last two months,” he said. “It is unclear if this is trending higher that other peak months, but these are the busy months for purchases. It follows that trend all the time.”
To apply for a handgun purchase permit, one must be a resident of their county of application for six months, age 21, include a character reference who is not a family relative and undergo a complete criminal background check.
A valid identification is needed along with a secondary form of documentation reflecting residency in the county. A $5 fee applies in exact change cash or a valid check payable to the sheriff’s office.
The process for a permit to carry firearms concealed from view is much more involved, with background checks extended to medical and mental health areas in addition to a criminal check.
“Everything is more extensive with the conceal carry permit than with the purchase permit,” White said. “The turnaround time is longer, because that’s where you have the background reports. The mental health checks can take some time, and we have to wait for those to come back to us.”
To begin a conceal carry permit application, a certificate of completion from an eight-hour gun safety course by a qualified instructor is needed up front with the $90 exact cash or valid check payment.
Vance County operates the conceal carry applications by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The safety certification, $90 fee, a driver’s license with name and address in agreement on the application form, and for former military personnel, a discharge DD214 copy, is due at that time.
Because of the volume of applications, Vance County’s appointment schedule is booked through mid-May.
Wilkins said his office is prepared for concealed carry applications on a walk-in basis for Granville County, which had 398 conceal carry permit applications in 2011 and 609 in 2012.
Vance County had 399 new conceal carry permit applications in 2012, plus 139 renewals and eight conceal carry permit denials in 2012, White said.
Conceal carry permits come up for renewal every five years.
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