Concealed-gun permits rise 36% in Durham

Jan. 03, 2014 @ 05:08 PM

The number of Durham residents applying for permits to carry a concealed gun jumped 36 percent in 2013 over the previous year, according to the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.
Permits to buy a pistol, however, fell 24 percent during the period.
“It looks like the drop is related to the fact that people would rather have the concealed-carry permit,” Durham County Sheriff’s Maj. Paul Martin said.
The process for getting a concealed-weapon permit is more stringent and expensive than for a pistol permit. The application fee is $90, compared to $5 for a pistol permit, and requires a far more thorough background investigation.
Getting a concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permit takes 90 days, and about one-fourth of the applications are rejected, according to Holly Ferrell, records manager in the Sheriff’s Office at the Durham County Courthouse.
Some fail a mental background check, while others are denied because they’re a convicted felon or having pending criminal charges.
As the number of CCW applications increases, so does the backlog, which currently stands at 870, and is taxing the resources of the records division, Ferrell said.
In 2013, the office got 1,460 applications for concealed-carry permits, up from 1,072 in 2012.
For pistol permits, the numbers were 1,443 this year compared to 1,890 in 2012.
“More than one-quarter, but not quite half, of the pistol permits are denied, with the main reason being pending charges and felonies,” Ferrell said.
A concealed-weapon permit lets the holder carry a concealed gun in all areas that state law allows, including vehicles, parks and restaurants.
To get a pistol permit, a basic criminal background check is done. But to get a concealed-carry permit, the Sheriff’s Office sends out seven letters to area medical institutions, including the applicant’s primary-care doctor, to determine if an applicant has been treated for a mental illness or been found by a court to be mentally ill.
Concealed-carry applicants have their photo and fingerprints taken, and pay the non-refundable fee. The entire process takes about 90 days, compared to 14 days for a pistol permit.
Martin said high-profile news events in the United States have generated discussion about the Second Amendment and the constitutional rights to bear arms.
“These events, combined with reports of crime throughout the area, and various debates throughout the political spectrum, may be driving the increase in applications for concealed-carry permits,” Martin said. “But so many variables are involved in this matter that it is difficult to pinpoint any specific reason with certainty.”