Concealed carry permit wait times begin to decrease as demand, regulations normalize

Cancelations and less influx lead to more traditional permit turnaround in county

CLARK COUNTY — The effects of initial delays for concealed pistol licenses (CPL) and other background checks for gun sales are beginning to lessen, at least for the moment. 

To apply for a permit to carry a handgun on your person in a manner not visible to the public, you must complete a Washington State application and take it to your local law enforcement agency.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office now has some improved flexibility for CPL appointments, and has moved up some previously scheduled times as cancelations and lower demand have occurred. Photo illustration by Jacob Granneman
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office now has some improved flexibility for CPL appointments, and has moved up some previously scheduled times as cancelations and lower demand have occurred. Photo illustration by Jacob Granneman

The pandemic restrictions put in place by Gov. Jay Inslee to slow the spread of COVID-19 also impacted the offices processing the permits; resulting in a pent up demand and subsequent backlog. 

In January, a wait time of some six months was common with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), the only agency able to process permits for residents not living in an incorporated city. 

“We shut down the front desk operations for a while and did not take new concealed license applications due to COVID,” Sgt. Brent Waddell with CCSO previously told Clark County Today. “Since then, of course, we’ve come up with policies and procedures to safely address that.”

The agency now has some improved flexibility, and has moved up some previously scheduled appointments as cancelations and lower demand have occurred. For example, an appointment made in November 2020 for the next available slot, which at the time was July 2021, might be moved up two months to May. The process however, will still take the required amount of time. 

The average appointment for fingerprinting, and registration at the county office under COVID protocols typically takes anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes currently. Following the appointment however, a period of up to 60 days may elapse before the CPL is mailed to the resident.

“There’s a lot that goes into it because you’re not only run through the National Crime database, you’re run through our local system,” Waddell said. “They make sure you’re not a convicted felon, don’t have a domestic violence conviction, don’t have a restraining order against you, no mental health orders, things like that, which takes time in itself.”

If you live in a city like Vancouver, the police department often has higher levels of availability at present, and often in general. Battle Ground, for example, recently revamped their system with more of the process now online. In Vancouver, there has been about a two week wait-time for an appointment with an often faster permit return time of about a week. 

Many rumors and myths still surround CPLs, specifically in the state of Washington. One of the most common is that it is legal to go to another county or city than the one you live in and obtain a CPL. This is false. All CPL holders must apply and be processed by the agency with jurisdiction in their home address. 

Another common myth is that the process is free and never required a wait-time. This also, is false. In Clark County, it costs close to $50 for a new license, and even at the best of times, there is usually two weeks of wait-time. 

The renewal and replacement processes continue to not be affected by delays. The cost for these is lower, and walk-ins are acceptable. CCSO has been working hard to be back down to a 20-30 day wait-time by summer; a goal that may be nearing achievability in the coming weeks.

For more information on CPL applications for CCSO, visit the devoted page online. Requirements for CPLs in the state of Washington can be found at dol.wa.gov. For cities in Clark County, visit your police department’s website and look for a tab with CPL listed. 

Additional information can be found in our previous story here.

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