EUGENE, Ore. — In 2012, Lane County saw an average of 180 concealed handgun license applications a month.
This year, it’s almost tripled, which means wait times have been worse than at the DMV.
Until this week, the sheriff’s office only took concealed handgun licence applications by walk-ins only. It wasn’t a problem until they saw that spike in registration, the most being about 500 new applications in January alone. That’s when they realized they needed a new, more efficient way of doing things.
“There wouldn’t have been an empty seat,” said Debera Thomas, Lane County Sheriff’s Office.
It may not look like it now, but the department’s hallway knows how to pack a crowd.
“They would’ve been lined up all along the hallway on both sides,” Thomas said. “It wasn’t uncommon to have 40 to 60 people sitting in here every morning at nine o’clock.”
All those people waiting three, four, even five hours to see Thomas and her co-workers at the sheriff’s office.
“We had one day in particular where people when a number would come up on the screen up there, they would hoop and holler because finally a number got called,” Thomas said.
But for the last few days, benches have been bare, tickets untouched, and wait times tiny.
“The hallways aren’t lined with people anymore,” Thomas said.
That’s thanks to the sheriff’s office’s new online concealed handgun licence appointment system implemented this week.
“We thought there’s got to be a better way to do this. The logical response was to find a way to make people’s visits just a little bit shorter,” said Sgt. Carrie Carver, Lane County Sheriff’s Office. “Now they come in, spend 10-15 minutes and they’re out. So it’s made a huge difference for our customers.”
Sheriff’s office staff say they would have thought of it sooner, but the demand wasn’t there until recently when CHL applications nearly tripled.
“About an average of 180 a month is what we saw in 2012, and it would go up and down a little bit, and then we saw a spike in December–330 CHL applications–and then that number rose up over 500 in January,” Carver said.
Numbers have been high since, but with online appointments, crowds have cleared and no more number watching. The empty halls mean applicants are happy and so is Thomas.
“It just makes the job easier knowing we don’t have to make people wait,” she said.