A few weeks ago, the Nevada Firearms Coalition PAC interviewed Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. Many members, including myself, expressed concerns on how long it takes Las Vegas Metro Police to issue CCW permits in particular.
There are two major issues. The first is (and has been for a long time) that it takes most of the 120 day statutory time period to issue permits. That is, once you turn in your application, the sheriff has 120 days to approve or deny the permit. Metro and Washoe County are currently running at that limit.
The second and more recent issue is appointment time. Until 2020, all sheriff’s offices accepted walk-in appointments. This meant waiting for fingerprinting was like waiting in any other line. Remember that the 120 clock doesn’t start until you turn in your application. That will be important later.
In 2020, online/scheduled fingerprint appointment times were introduced. Metro briefly went to a deeply unpopular online only application system for the fingerprint and application appointment. In his call with the PAC, Lombardo announced that he had reinstated the ability to apply in person at headquarters. Little public announcement was made of this.
The problem with these online/scheduled appointments is that appointment slots were booked up for months. Unprecedented demand didn’t help, but at least with in-person appointments, you could always wake up early and wait in line. Now the scheduling delays forced many people into a year’s artificial delay, on top of the 120 statutory limit. That means some people wouldn’t get a permit until 16 months (theoretically) after scheduling the appointment.
Due to a massive backlog induced by COVID and unrest, Washoe County Sheriff launched an initiative in March to reduce the year-long backlog just to apply for a permit. Clark County applications were reporting up to a 90 day wait just to apply, one quarter of the wait for Reno-area applicants. A five-six month wait was not uncommon even after the initiative.
So someone expressing interest in a CCW permit might have to wait several months just to apply for their permit, meaning if they applied and scheduled now, they might get a permit by New Year’s.
Before, as well as during COVID, both new and renewal CCW applicants have been seeing processing times that have approached, or in many cases, exceeded the statutory 120 calendar day limit. While it might be easy to fall back on an explanation of "short staffed" or "high volume", this is a service that is funded by the fees that are paid by the applicants. More applicants equals more funding.
It may also be easy to fall back on a "backlog at DPS", since the process is dependent on them. However, other counties in Nevada are reporting processing times as little as days or weeks, not months. And certainly not over the statutory 120-day limit.
Lander County Sheriff says they are running 60 days, which is consistent with their turnaround pre-COVID. Humboldt County Sheriff says they are typically about 4-6 weeks out right now. Their clerk told me it’s usually about a week to get your appointment, and then the vast majority of the rest of the time is up to Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Carson City.
Humboldt is getting their applications processed by DPS in approximately four weeks, typically, which is consistent with pre-COVID issuance. The clerk said that whenever the local instructors graduate a class, their appointments might push out to eight days instead of five. After the political changes at the national level (the clerk’s wording), they are seeing like four or five times the number of applications. This is consistent with reports across the state and nation.
Elko County Sheriff Narvaiza replied to me himself and said they are at about two months. I specifically asked how the time breaks down, and Humboldt said it is almost all DPS in their county. The in-office time was just days on both ends. Once Humboldt County authorities get the blessing from DPS, the permits are printed and out the door within 48 hours.
Our understanding is that DPS runs the fingerprints through the FBI, for a criminal record check, and run the application through the NICS database, to confirm they are not a prohibited person disqualified from processing firearms. Lander County reported its two-month turn-around, again was mostly DPS. 60 days for DPS would be consistent with what Metro told us in 2016 (if one accounts for variations due to massive demand).
Sheriff Antinoro in Storey County (Virgina City) told me, as for wait times, virtually all of it is waiting on state or FBI returns. Local time consists of one to two days. “We were turning CCWs around in about 3-4 weeks pre-apocalypse. We got up to 6-8 weeks at the height of the pandemic. Now in the waning days, as of last week I'm told we're down to 4-6 weeks. That's all FBI/state delay.”
So assuming all of them are going through the same queue at DPS, that means that Metro’s CCW detail is taking three extra months above DPS time. The same would be the case, albeit on a smaller scale, in Washoe County.
Demand is a factor in any system with a bottleneck; ask us in Clark County about this. Permit issuance is greatest here because of the population size and tourism (duh). Naturally it takes longer, but “longer” has been 80-120 days on average since 2013. The appointment fiasco didn’t factor into that because until recently, it was first-come, first-served.
The only explanation for why it takes so long for Nevada to issue permits is staffing. At the state level, DPS doesn’t have the manpower to handle their end with this level of demand in a reasonable timeframe. Okay, we get it. Nevada is a small state.
However, with Washoe and for darn sure Clark County, the only answer is that the sheriffs do not want to devote the manpower and money for their CCW details to process permits faster. In times of great demand we might forgive the government slow processing due to a bottleneck, but especially in Metro’s case, this bottleneck has been going on for years.
Considering the above, how Sheriff Lombardo explain the current state of the CCW detail within Metro, and these long processing times? I have done the research. I’ve contacted more than half of the county sheriffs in the state. I think every CCW holder in Nevada wants a straight answer to this question.
As our esteemed editor said: “120 days is the deadline, not the goal.” Sheriff Lombardo has refused to make any meaningful changes to speed up processing. Increased demand should equal more staffing. A right delayed is a right denied (never mind the questionable constitutionality of requiring a permit in the first place).
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Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West