Pandemic continues to present challenges for those wishing to apply for or renew concealed carry licenses
Reports of long waiting lines to apply for or renew concealed handgun licenses during the COVID-19 pandemic continue to come in to Buckeye Firearms Association.
In Delaware County, for example, the first available dates are in late September. Warren County has its first opening on October. The Cuyahoga County Sheriff's office website lists no appointment times available through the end of October.
Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno reported on Facebook Friday that his office is booked 90 days out, and that some surrounding counties are booked until February 2021. From Sheriff Leonbruno's post:
Why is this occurring?
In Ohio citizens can go to their own County, or any adjacent County, to have obtain their CHL, or have their CHL renewal processed. Each county cannot show preference in scheduling to its own residents, and must take applicants on a first come, first serve scheduling basis.
Currently, between Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, and Cuyahoga Counties (our adjacent counties) there are approximately 13,000 CHL’s up for renewal in 2020. This does not include new applications. In 2019 the Lake County Sheriff’s Office CHL Office issued nearly 4,500 new permits.
Thus far in 2020 Lake, Geauga, Ashtabula, and Cuyahoga counties combined renewed 2,614. Of those Lake County did 1,490. (Of all 88 counties in Ohio, Lake County, the smallest in the State, ranks 2nd or 3rd annually as registering the most CHL permits in the State of Ohio). Currently, it is estimated that 11,344 still need go through the renewal process between the 4 counties.
Among many things Sheriff Leonbruno says he is doing to address the problem, he noted that he is "speaking with government officials in Columbus about the possibilities of getting greater extensions on time periods once renewal dates have passed, at least while Coronavirus continues to limit operations in terms of the number of people we can deal with at one time in our CHL Office."
So what can Ohioans do?
For the many who are getting their Ohio concealed handgun license for the first time, there is little to do but make an appointment and wait (or consider applying for a temporary emergency license).
For persons wishing to renew a license that is expiring between the dates of March 9, 2020 and December 1, 2020, the Ohio legislature has extended the expiration date of Ohio Concealed Handgun Licenses for 90 days if the expiration falls during the state of emergency in Ohio, declared by Executive Order 2020-01D. (This extension is what Sheriff Leonbruno says he is petitioning legislators to have extended even further.)
Even if you don't live in northeast Ohio, your county could be facing similar challenges. So don't wait until the last minute to renew your license.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- If the Sheriff in your county has a long wait for processing applications and renewals due to health concerns, or has limited hours for license processing, check with Sheriffs in adjacent counties.
- Remember that law enforcement in other states may not be aware of the expiration date extension for Ohio licenses. Use caution when traveling out of state with an expired Concealed Handgun License.
- Check out our Ohio CCW Information Center for additional information about applying for or renewing a license.
There is one more thing you can do. Write to your state legislators and point out to them that these problems highlight the need for Ohio's (overwhelmingly Republican) legislature to finally pass Constitutional Carry in Ohio, so that problems like this will no longer prevent people from exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms for defense and security. People should not have to ask the government's permission to exercise a constitutional right in the first place, let alone have to wait six months or longer to obtain that permission.
Chad D. Baus served as Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary from 2013-2019. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website, and is also an NRA-certified firearms instructor.
[UPDATE 7/15/20] AG: Wearing masks allowed while legally carrying concealed in Ohio