BEND, Ore. - Despite a 46 percent jump in the number of new or renewed concealed handgun licenses issued in Deschutes County last year, a sheriff's office staffing shift has cut the four- to six-month wait time for an appointment down to just two weeks, the agency said Monday.
Last year, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office experienced a steady increase in applicants for new Concealed Handgun licenses (CHL), transfers and renewals of licenses.
Sgt. Troy Gotchy teaches the CHL classes.
"January was absolutely insane, I've never seen anything like it," he said Wednesday, "We'd kind of average 45 to 50 people per class before January, and then in January we had 97."
The sheriff's office issued or renewed 4,252 concealed handgun licenses in 2016, up 1,352, or 46 percent, from the prior year, said Capt. Paul Garrison.
In the first part of the year, the wait time for an appointment had ranged from four to six months. Recognizing the need to respond to this wait time, the sheriff's office reassigned existing staff last August to the Concealed Handgun License Unit.
In addition, CHL classes are offered once a month, on Saturday only.This Saturday class allows citizens to attend a CHL qualifying class and complete the entire CHL permitting process in a half-day. with the CHL license being mailed to them within a week.
"With these improvements to our processes the wait time has decreased to two weeks for an appointment," Garrison said.. "This is one example how the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office is proactively identifying ways to better serve the citizens of Deschutes County."
The county processed an average 216 new CHL permits and 140 renewals per month last year, he said..
Garrison said there were nearly 12,000 CHL holders at year's end in Deschutes County, and the permits are good for four years.
As for the reasons behind the surge in permits, Garrison said, "The desire to obtain one is personal, ranging pretty far and wide, from the safety factor to a person's concerns over political activity."
Gotchy said he sees a wide variety of people at his classes: "younger folks, older folks. We've had a few classes that are more men than women, but I think for the most part it's a fairly good mix.".
You can visit the department's Website:at sheriff.deschutes.org to sign up for a Saturday class or book a CHL appointment.