Concealed Weapons Applicants Experience Delays - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Concealed Weapons Applicants Experience Delays

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New conceal and carry laws say once you apply for a license, you'll get it in sixty days. But many North Dakotans who applied months ago are still waiting.

Up until a few years ago, the State Bureau of Crime Investigation got about ten applications a day. Now, it's getting three or four hundred. And that number is so overwhelming that the BCI is still processing concealed weapons applications from May and June right now.

It could be the rapid population growth or the rise of crime in some parts of North Dakota. Either way, more and more people want concealed weapons licenses.

"So, I have had the 65-year-old grandmother coming in to get her permit because she wanted to carry a stun gun," says concealed weapons test administrator Nicholas Couture.

Since 2011, the number of concealed weapons applications sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Investigations has doubled from about 6,000 to more than 12,000 a year.

"They'd open the mail up at BCI and they'd see 100 applications coming in each and every day that needed to be processed," says Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

And before, there was only one person going through those applications at the BCI. So, Stenehjem was forced to hire more people.

"We are going to have as many as six people, three full-time and three part-time. And then, I've also authorized overtime," says Stenehjem.

Part of the overwhelming number of applications could be the new conceal and carry laws that went into effect on August 1. They bumped the applications fee up to $60, but also reduced the waiting time for a license to 60 days.

"Unfortunately, it's kind of a hurry up and wait game. I do know they process them as fast as they can. They had a flood of people trying to get their permits in right before the laws changed," says Couture.

But the Attorney General says he's not just solving the problem with more employees, he's also pushing for the development of an online application.

"There's a light at the end of the tunnel, and it will come within the next couple of months or so," says Stenehjem.

With the online app, there'd be no need to mail applications back and forth. And, if someone fills out the paperwork wrong, they can fix it right away.

"I want everybody to know that we are working overtime, and have gone into overdrive, to make sure that we're getting these out for citizens who are entitled to have them," says Stenehjem.

The Attorney General says the six employees will work until they can go through applications in the 60-day time limit. Until then, they'll keep working overtime

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