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Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden reports an unprecedented increase in purchase permit and concealed handgun permit applications since March. Before March — and Covid-19 — purchase permit applications averaged 1,506 per month in fiscal year 2020 and 1,130 in fiscal year 2019. Since March, the average climbed to 4,698 per month. 

According to agency officials, the sheriff’s office registered 11,038 applications on Sept. 25, its highest number of outstanding applications ever. 

Staff are currently processing purchase permit applications as of June 29, 2020. McFadden has authorized additional overtime and approved staff from other divisions to assist in the effort to meet the high demand. 

Since reopening the division on June 1, there has been a 122% increase in the monthly average of applicants for new and renewal concealed handgun permit applications for June and July 2020 compared to the previous eleven months. The total number of concealed gun permit applications registered in July (1,473) and August (1,523) was 3,001. 

Demand for the processing and issuing of concealed handgun permits continues to increase as appointments are already booked into December 2020. Staff are currently processing and issuing concealed handgun permits as of June 26. 

Customers were notified on March 19 that approved pistol purchase and concealed handgun permits would be mailed to them to limit the number of customers entering the sheriff’s office.

“I am committed to ensuring we continue to provide this service to the citizens of Mecklenburg County during this unprecedented crisis and appreciate everyone’s understanding and patience while we strive to process all applications ensuring the safety of the public,” McFadden said. 

The rise in purchase and concealed handgun permit applications may be attributed to concerns about possible restrictions, Brookings economists Phillip Levine and Robin McKnight hypothesized. When President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on March 13 declaring a national emergency because of the Covid-19 outbreak, firearm sales jumped to 120,000 per day over the next 12 days. Sales peaked at 176,000 on March 16, but over 700,000 firearms were sold in March.

Recent protests against police injustices across the country may also be a contributing factor for the significant increase. Both reasonings could persist as there’s no definitive timetable for a vaccine and police-community relations continue to be an ongoing effort in America. 

Information to apply for a purchase permit can be found here.

Jonathan is a former QCity Metro reporter who covered Charlotte neighborhoods north of uptown. He also reported on education, public safety and health.

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