For well over a year now residents in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina have been experiencing insufferable delays in the processing of their concealed carry applications. The local sheriff has already been sued once because of the months-long waits, and earlier this year was the subject of a court order to, among other things, process concealed carry applications within 45 days “of receipt of an application” and “receipt of all mental health records” as required under North Carolina law.
At the time, I’d hoped that was going to be the end of the story, but as Grassroots NC founder Paul Valone outlines on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, that court order was just the start of a new chapter in the continued saga of the slow-walked carry licenses in Mecklenburg County.
Last week we reported on the fact that some concealed carry applicants are still waiting to be approved after applying back in February and having their fingerprints taken in April; a delay that Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden blames on delays from the VA, which has been slow in handling his requests for mental health records. The VA has acknowledged a backlog of medical record requests, but Valone says there’s something odd going on; namely, none of the other 99 counties in North Carolina are reporting similar problems.
So what’s going on? Valone believes that McFadden is simply flooding the VA with mental health records requests even when applicants have had no military experience whatsoever, and therefore have no reason to have ever been a part of the VA medical system.
“I am routinely, on a daily basis, taking complaints… collecting complains, and plaintiffs by the way, from people who say that they’re delayed,” Valone tells Bearing Arms. “The sheriff told them that they’re delayed due to the VA, and they’re going ‘I was never in the military. Why is the VA playing a role in this?’”
Valone believes the sheriff is also misreading a North Carolina statute in order to delay processing concealed carry applications until after the VA reports back on any applicable mental health records.
“If you look at the statute it says 45 days and receipt of mental health records, not 45 days after receipt of mental health records, which is how McFadden is interpreting this thing,” Valone says. If that is indeed the case, then McFadden is basically padding an extra six weeks into the processing time for concealed carry applications.
Keep in mind that this is all happening in a “shall issue” state, albeit one that still allows sheriffs like McFadden an awful lot of leeway and subjective decision making when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. Valone tells Bearing Arms that not only is Grassroots NC prepping a new lawsuit against McFadden and his office over the continued delays in approving concealed carry applications, the group is also going to be lobbying hard to get rid of the state’s “permit to purchase” law for handguns; a relic of the Jim Crow era that still leads to black applicants being denied permission to purchase a handgun at rates far higher than their white counterparts.
I’ve emailed the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s public information office with an invitation for Sheriff McFadden to join me on an upcoming Cam & Co, and I’ll let you know if he takes me up on the offer. I’m perfectly willing to listen to McFadden’s side of the story, and I hope he’s just as willing to answer some tough but fair questions about the continued delays there in Mecklenburg County.