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‘Unprecedented’: N.C. Sheriff Suspends New Pistol Permits Due to ‘250 Percent Increase in Demand’

Pistol at a rally in support of an open-carry gun law in Romulus, Mich., 2014 (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

Wake County, N.C. Sheriff Gerald Baker said Tuesday that he was suspending applications for pistols and concealed carry firearms until April 30 after seeing a “250 percent increase in demand” for permits since the coronavirus pandemic.

Baker explained in a news release that the decision is to manage the backlog of 755 new permit applications, which averaged 290 per day last week — more than three times the roughly 90 applications per day during the same time period last year.

According to North Carolina state law, sheriff’s offices must inform pistol permit applicants whether their permit is granted within 14 days. But with the sharp increase, the office needs time to be able to handle the applications to comply with state law.

“Our staff has been inundated with high volumes of permit applications that has made it impossible to process by law,” Baker said, adding that “this decision does not limit anyone’s right to purchase a handgun,” as those who already have permits are allowed to freely purchase.

But two Republican North Carolina State Senators, Warren Daniel and Danny Britt, called Baker’s move an “illegal decision.”

“People are already suspicious and on edge,” they wrote in a joint statement. “It’s reckless to illegally suspend their Second Amendment rights just when they need assurance that they can trust government.”

Reports earlier this month showed a surge in gun sales across the country, with many first-time buyers flocking to sellers as coronavirus cases have risen.

“It’s not like an active panic, more a preoccupation with making sure everyone is adequately prepared, myself and family and friends,” first-time gun purchaser Anna Carrenas told the Los Angeles Times at Arcadia Firearm and Safety in Arcadia, Calif. “Better to be prepared and not need it than need it and not have it.”

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