RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Wake County Sheriff’s Office has brought in at least five extra workers to help process “historic” levels of pistol permit applications, officials said Friday.
A lawsuit was filed earlier this month, claiming Wake County and Sheriff Gerald Baker are breaking the law by not issuing gun permits within 14 days.
At a news conference Friday, deputies said they expanding work hours and bringing in more staff to help process the applications.
“We are averaging about 16,000 more applications approved than we did in 2019. We are also about 16,000 more approved and out the door than in 2018,” said Wake County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Scott Sefton.
Sefton said 5,111 permits were issued in just the last two weeks.
“That is just historic — is has never been done before,” Sefton said.
Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun rights group, filed the lawsuit early this month.
“Sheriff Baker knows the state specified 14 days for processing those permits and now it’s routinely taking two months,” Marc Erickson with Grass Roots North Carolina, said after filing the lawsuit.
The reason for the high levels of applications is not completely clear, but it does coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests that spiraled into violence across the country and in Wake County.
“It could be a myriad of things from civil unrest to COVID-19,” Sefton said about the reasons for more applications. “It may be just speculation from my standpoint but those are the things that are going on today.”
Three officers from the school resource division have been brought in to help, Sefton said.
An officer each from the warrant and patrol divisions were also pulled in to assist, he said.
The lawsuit from Grass Roots North Carolina was the second filed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Back in March, Baker said he would temporarily suspend gun permitting. A lawsuit followed and the sheriff agreed to modify the process during the state of emergency.
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