The number of requests for handgun purchase permits and concealed carry permits has been going up in Guilford County, and, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, so has the amount of time it takes to get one.

This week, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department released some stats that show the large rise in requests in recent years – especially since the start of the pandemic.

According to the new statistical report, since mid-March of 2020 – when the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic began hitting Guilford County in full force – the processing times at the Sheriff’s Department for concealed carry handgun permits and pistol purchase permits have been affected by two main factors – a “dramatic” increase in applications and the start of pandemic safety precautions that altered the way the permits are processed.

The new stats from the department compare the same twelve-month span (April 1 to March 31) over a two-year period.  They show a 102 percent increase in applications for pistol purchase permits and a 78 percent increase in applications for concealed carry permits.

From April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020, there were 10,506 pistol purchase permits requested and 5,152 concealed carry permits requested. That compares with 21,257 purchase permits applied for in the same period from 2020 to 2021, and with 9,170 concealed carry permits requested in that previous year.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the numbers for the past 12 months also represent a threefold increase in combined permits in Guilford County since 2015.

According to a statement from the department, applications have been handled “as diligently as possible by the Sheriff’s Gun Permit Section with the same number of employees as that Section had in 2019.” The statement added, “Because, however, the County needed to formulate the 2020 – 2021 budget amid great uncertainty over revenues caused by the pandemic, no additional employees were added to the Gun Permit Section for the current budget year when it started on July 1, 2020.”

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners and top county staff are now putting together a budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 that will go into effect on July 1.