Pennsylvania is poised to completely overhaul its concealed weapon license system by switching to a digital database and hiring new employees. Officials say that the new system should streamline the process and cut down on long waiting periods.
Currently, Pennsylvania officials run a 15-year-old automated phone system, but a recent overload in the number of requests have pushed officials to upgrade to a newer system. The state received a spike in concealed carry applications following the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy. Between January and April last year, Allegheny County received 6,500 license applications, compared to 8,751 applications during the same period this year.
Part the delay stems from zealous police officers. Sheriff William Mullen explained that he likes to double check applicants by running a background check and then putting the applicant name through the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database. “There are certain people who try to get these permits when they aren't eligible. So we take some extra time in weeding them out so the people who deserve (a license) get it,” he said.
Once the new system is installed, sheriff’s departments and firearm dealers will be able to use the $1.2 million Instant Check System to run background checks and, if the applicant passes, issue concealed-carry licenses or sell the applicant firearms.
“We want to do the best we can to keep up with that kind of volume,” explained Pennsylvania State Police program analyst Nancy Kent.
Mullen added, “We're overwhelmed. ... We're catching up. We should be caught up shortly. We're working very diligently in checking with the state police. That's all we can do.”
Based on the complaints of Pennsylvania citizens, this new system is just what the doctor ordered. Jason Laura, a PA resident who applied for a license two months ago, complained, “I don't like driving around without appropriate permits. I can't target practice because I don't feel comfortable without having appropriate documentation.”
Overall, this is good news for gun rights advocates. The upgrade might cost the taxpayers a pretty penny, but it will save money in the long run by freeing up man hours and cutting away red tape.