Oregon concealed carry applicants face months-long delays amid virus

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Officials in one county say they're getting more applicants than any other time in at least 15 years

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CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Business has been a lot of “go mode” for Bryan Mumford, CEO and lead instructor of PDX Arsenal. His concealed handgun license (CHL) classes have been “growing exponentially” since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I was doing maybe one or two classes a week at the beginning of everything,” Mumford said. “I’m doing three or four now.”

The classes meet social-distancing and sanitation requirements, he said, so they’ve been able to continue without any trouble. His students will have to wait much longer than usual to actually receive their CHLs, though, due to an increase in demand and a months-long shuttering of sheriff’s offices during the coronavirus response.

New CHL applicants have to get their fingerprints and identification photo taken in person at their local county sheriff’s office.

Washington County reopened CHL processing in early June and has experienced a higher volume of new applicants than one supervisor has seen in 15 years with the department. The CHL unit has been booking appointments out four months when, previously, applicants only had to wait about two weeks for an appointment.

Multnomah County saw 692 new CHL applications in June, adding to an already heavy backlog (MCSO)

Multnomah County saw a stunning 692 new applications in June, when the average during the previous five months was about 316 applications per month. They started processing new CHLs in July and are dealing with a serious backlog. Applicants there shouldn’t expect to be licensed until this winter.

Clackamas County’s pre-pandemic wait time was among the shortest, at about one week, according to a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Now, around 800 new applicants are waiting for appointments as far out as late fall. It’s the same story in Multnomah County, with more than 1,500 people waiting for appointments. New applicants could be lucky to get their license before the new year.

Mumford said the pandemic isn’t the only factor contributing to the backlog. He’s also seeing an influx of new applicants, but demurred on the possible reasons. Gun sales and license applications do typically go up during election years, but Mumford said only that there’s a lot of “uncertainty” around politics and the current administration.

“That’s one thing that we don’t ever bring up in class is politics or things like that,” Mumford said.

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Bryan Mumford teaches a concealed handgun class on Sep. 8, 2019 in Sandy (Hannah Ray Lambert)

Ongoing protests and calls to defund police are another topic his students will sometimes try to bring up, but he said he’ll squash that too in the interest of keeping the class comfortable and enjoyable for all the other students.

Whatever the reasons for the backlog, Mumford said he doesn’t see it going away anytime soon.

“To be honest, business only seems to be getting busier for me,” he said adding that summer tends to be his slow months. So if fall and winter are as busy as normal, he doesn’t see the processing backlog subsiding for at least six months.

So he tells prospective students to start the process now.

“if they play the waiting game with the assumption that things are going to slow down, they’re going to be waiting even later,” he said.

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