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Gun permit applications double in Onslow County

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 7:29 PM EST
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ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Gun permit applications are soaring to record levels in Onslow County.

As of early November, Sheriff Hans Miller received 3,554 gun purchase applications, with two months left to go in the year. All last year, the department only received 1,376 permit applications.

“We are committed to making it as painless as possible for citizens, as long as they’re law-abiding,” said Miller.

About 200 of those applications were received last week alone. On top of those, the sheriff’s office has received 3,043 concealed carry permit applications.

Applicants do not have to provide a reason for why they’re applying for a gun permit, but Dana Fitzgerald, owner of Flatwood Outfitters, has a pretty good understanding of the increase.

“People started buying toilet paper. And, once they started doing that, people started wondering what else was going to be hard to get,” said Fitzgerald.

The Hubert gun range hasn’t seen an increase in sales, but has seen about a 20% increase in range use, according to Fitzgerald, and that only starting going up as the year went on.

“We started to see an increase of range use and a decrease in ammo, said Fitzgerald. “And then the riots started. And we started seeing an increase in ammo sales, and then the range use went up.”

The flood of applications is backing up the sheriff’s office. Miller has had to nearly triple the staff handling the applications.

“We make an appointment for fingerprinting. And that’s where sometimes the delay happens,” said Miller. “We’ve had thousands of applicants. And you can’t do them all at the same time.”

With the pandemic shutting down manufacturers, supplies are also tight with no guarantee, according to Fitzpatrick, of enough guns to go around for approved applicants.

“It’s just been a snowball effect, and more and more people are buying it,” said Fitzpatrick. “There are seven or eight million new gun owners. That’s a lot of ammo for them, even if they’re only buying one or two boxes.”

Miller is asking applicants to be careful when filling out applications. Another delay in the process can be paperwork that is incorrectly filled out.

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