Local News

Wake County receiving 'unprecedented' number of requests for gun permits

Posted August 5, 2020 8:14 a.m. EDT
Updated August 5, 2020 1:07 p.m. EDT

— At the same time the Wake County Sheriff's Office said it is overwhelmed with applications for gun permits, a grassroots organization has filed another lawsuit against the office, this time over the time it takes for residents to obtain hand gun permits.

Grass Roots North Carolina said Wednesday their office has been "flooded with complaints" from people who are trying to buy guns but are unable to do so because of limitations set in place by Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker.

According to GRNC, "Baker refuses to process pistol purchase permits within the 14 days required by law, effectively denying citizens their right to keep and bear arms." GRNC asserts that more people want to buy guns due to recent unrest across the country.

The sheriff's office confirmed Wednesday it has been receiving an "unprecedented increase" of pistol purchase permit applications daily.

"Between Jan. 1 and July 24, 18,282 individuals have been approved or have received their permits," a release stated. "During the same period last year, 8,169 permits were approved."

GRNC President Paul Valone said this is the third lawsuit filed against Baker and the sheriff's office.

"Sheriff Baker seems to think he is above the law," Valone said in a written statement. "Grass Roots North Carolina intends to prove otherwise. Since Baker doesn’t seem to be getting the message, we will deliver it loud and clear."

The sheriff's office responded, saying, "Sheriff Baker stands by his decision to protect the health and well-being of this staff and general public during this pandemic.”

Baker said in March at the start of the pandemic that his office wouldn't accept any new applications through the end of April because a crush of applicants had overwhelmed the system. He also said his office was trying to maintain social distancing by limiting public access to the office.

Shortly after, the Wake County Sheriff's Office said an agreement was reached with GRNC after the group filed legal action over Baker’s decision to temporarily suspend residents from obtaining pistol purchase permits.

According to the sheriff's office, both parties agreed that Baker would modify the application process to resume processing applications in as timely a fashion as possible under the current conditions.

The most recent lawsuit from GRNC asserts that it is still taking too long to get a gun permit in Wake County.

In July, WRAL News learned it can take five weeks to get a pistol permit in Wake County due to the number of requests.

Valone said he has heard from applicants who have waited two months or more for a permit.

Records obtained by WRAL found that, in May 2019, the county was juggling 784 gun permit applications. In May 2020, it had 2,909.

According to WRAL Mark Boyle, permits currently take just a few days to receive in Nash and Johnston counties.

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