For the months this year when protest and the pandemic have gripped the county, the number of pistol purchase permit applications more than tripled.

From April 1, 2019, to July 27, 2019, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department received 2,446 pistol purchase permit applications, while, this year, over that same period, the department received 8,555 – more than triple the number.

Also, a lot more of those people who are applying for permits want to legally carry their guns in a concealed fashion. For that same period of time, the number of requests to carry a concealed handgun (CCH) went from 1,706 in 2019 to 2,593 this year. That represents more than a 50 percent increase.

Those numbers were provided to the Rhino Times by Guilford County Sheriff’s Department Attorney Jim Secor in response to a public records request.

A number of factors are no doubt at play, such as the recent protests and riots over the death of George Floyd and people feeling less secure during the pandemic.

Regardless of the cause, the large spike in demand has kept the Sheriff’s Department working hard to fill the need at a time when it is hard to interact with the public in person.

In an email, Secor wrote, “To address the issue of CCH processing times without the benefit of an increased staff, Sheriff [Danny] Rogers has already implemented a number of aggressive, in-house measures to assist the GCSO’s [Guilford County Sheriff’s Office’s] Gun Permit Section personnel and to decrease CCH processing times.”

For instance, he wrote, “Overtime was approved for the GCSO civilian staff in the Gun Permit Section,” adding, “These employees have been working extended hours into the evening plus overtime hours on weekends.”

He also said several other steps were taken as well. For instance, the department’s Volunteers in Police Service – known as “VIPS” – were approved to assist in handling the paperwork involved with getting the gun permits and concealed carry permits.

Secor stated that the department has also increased the number of face-to-face fingerprinting appointments for concealed carry permits from 24 to 40 a day and has added one extra day per week for those appointments.

“We have expedited the processing of all concealed carry renewals using an online/mail only procedure,” he wrote in an email, adding, “The department has also implemented a phone tree that directs callers to a person to answer frequently asked questions. This not only helps to better serve County residents seeking CCH and Pistol Purchase permits, it also eliminates phone call interruptions for staff members assigned to processing permits.”

In addition, Secor stated, the department has reassigned some Legal Process Division personnel who usually perform other duties and had them assist with the processing of the gun permits and concealed carry permits.