© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Charlotte Area

Court Adds Staff To Process Pistol Permit Background Checks

Mecklenburg County Superior Court has added staff and expanded overtime for existing employees to process a backlog of pistol permit background checks that came with a Dec. 1 change in state law. The new law requires authorities to check mental health records before issuing pistol purchase permits. But demand and a staff shortage in the clerk's office has brought wait times of up to four months. 

Court clerk Elisa Chinn-Gary has hired one permanent and two temporary full-time employees to process gun permit applications. All three are paid $28,225.60 annually, the clerk's office said Monday. 

The office also is using a federal grant to expand overtime for other employees. And it's working with the sheriff's office to digitize old records, which will make them easier to search. 

County sheriff Irwin Carmichael said in March he's had trouble meeting a 14-day deadline to issue permits, mainly because of a lag in mental health checks. Court officials say demand for permits has risen 1,750 percent since the law, and that has overwhelmed the court clerk's office. 

Chinn-Gary said her office continues to face a staffing shortage, with only 206 employees of the 241 employees she says she needs.  

“The recent demand placed on the clerk’s office to process mental health records is unprecedented,” says Chinn-Gary said in a press release. “We greatly appreciate the collaborative response from other governmental partners to find both short- and long-term solutions to this high-volume demand."

In March, Carmichael said gun purchase permit applications have surged this year, in part because of a rush in buying after the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings in December.  

RELATED COVERAGE

March 1, 2016, WFAE.org, "Sheriff Faces Pistol Permit Backlog After New Law, Surge In Buying"