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Mecklenburg County Sheriff changes process for fingerprint services to comply with lawsuit over gun permits

Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden says he’s canceling some 1,300 appointments for fingerprint services needed to get a permit for a pistol and concealed handgun.

A state judge ordered the sheriff’s office last week to grant or deny handgun permits within the time frame laid out in state law. That’s within 14 days of receiving an application for a pistol and 45 days for a concealed handgun.

A lawsuit filed in August said the process was taking five months. It said the sheriff’s office's ability to provide timely fingerprint services and mental health records checks were holding up the permitting process.

McFadden responded in a statement that in order to get fingerprints processed within five days of receiving the request, those requests will now be filled on a first-come first-served basis.

“Although disappointed with this new requirement to provide fingerprinting for CHP applicants within five days of an application, and the inconvenience that this will result in for so many of our customers, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office will continue to serve our customers as best we can,” McFadden said in the statement.

The sheriff’s office never failed to request mental health records within the required ten-day window, McFadden said.

McFadden says his staff has logged in nearly 19,000 hours in overtime, and he’s hired two additional people to fill gun permit requests.

The lawsuit was filed by three groups, including Gun Owners of America.

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Catherine Welch is Assistant News Director at WFAE. She has led newsrooms at KUNC in Greely, CO, Rhode Island Public Radio in Providence, RI and WHQR in Wilmington, NC.