Survey Shows Ongoing Problems with Ohio CHL Renewals
About 700,000 Ohioans have a Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Under normal circumstances, sheriffs have little problem processing applications and renewals in a timely fashion. However, beginning in March 2020, that changed.
First, health concerns about coronavirus caused a dozen Ohio Sheriff offices to shut down. Within a few weeks, most reopened, but the closures caused a backlog of license applications and renewals. Second, growing concerns about the broader Ohio "shutdown," coupled with increasingly violent protests and calls to defund police around the country, produced a significant spike in both new applications and renewals.
Many sheriffs have never caught up with the demand, even with the 90-day license expiration extension Buckeye Firearms Association helped pass into law before the end of March.
A few weeks ago, we started talking to legislators about another fix. In order to better quantify and explain the problem, we decided to run a survey.
We published the survey on August 12, 2020, and collected 621 responses over six days, with the majority coming in on the first two days.
Here are the results. Download the complete report here.
Were you able to schedule an appointment?
About 80% said "yes," while about 20% said "no."
What is the wait time for an appointment to renew your CHL?
About 40% indicated a wait time of less than a month. Most others said wait times extended from 1 to 7 months, with a handful having to wait up to 12 months.
Did you schedule the appointment in your home county or an adjacent county?
Nearly 63% answered "home county" while about 37% answered "adjacent county."
Will your CHL expire before you can renew?
This was the crucial question, because those unable to renew in a timely manner are effectively having their rights infringed and are unable to legally carry until their renewal is processed. While about 72% said "no" to this question, nearly 28% said "yes."
How long will you be without a valid Ohio CHL?
Nearly 61% said less than a month, though this may also include those indicating that they will not be without a valid license for any amount of time. However, this also means that 39% will be without a valid license for some period of time, ranging from 1 to 12 months.
Here's a small sampling of comments, most of which were positive:
Wayne County is the best. The facility is clean and convenient. Deputy was very courteous and friendly. No wait time. I was given renewal license while I was there, didn’t have to wait 30 days or come back later.
All things considered, the process here in Shelby County was very seamless and went well with no delays of any sort.
Ended up going to Delaware County. Had license renewed in about 2 weeks.
I called on 8/13 and got an appointment for 8/25. Pretty good. They said they were prioritizing in county renewals over new and out of county applications. Those folks are looking at November and December so still not horrible given the scenario.
My Sheriff's office made a special time for me and my wife to renew when we asked.
Scheduled 2 days out in Ashland. Had license in hand 6 days later. This was back in late June, early july 2020.
Of course, some of the comments were negative:
Summit County wouldn't even return calls had to go to Medina County and now they are four to five months out before having appointments available.
It really is amazing how long appointments are taking. All counties around me and my home county are now closed for taking appointments.
I wasn’t even able to make an appointment they showed book to the end of the year and not scheduling anything until after the first 2021. I actually need my license for my business. I go in very early in the morning and I would have no protection a case something happened.
So what do these numbers mean? They show that while most of Ohio's 88 counties are dealing reasonably well with the increase in demand for CHL applications and renewals, a significant number are not.
And when we consider Ohio's 700,000 license holders, a number that is growing every day, the numbers show that thousands of Ohioans will see their licenses expire through no fault of their own, some for many months, before they are able to renew.
And finally, the numbers show why being "licensed" to exercise a Constitutional right is unacceptable.
We have meetings scheduled with House and Senate leaders to present these survey results and push for a solution and continue our pursuit of Constitutional Carry.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, a former competitive shooter, NRA Patron Member, #1 NRA Recruiter for 2013, business owner and partner with Second Call Defense.