Concealed Handgun Permit Renewal Notification Letter

Postcard from the Sherriff

Postcard from the Sherriff

After I made an appointment and submitted my paperwork to renew my CHP in Wake County, I received a postcard to remind me to do just that. It arrived about four and a half months (18 weeks and 3 days to be exact) prior to the expiration date. Since you have to start the process all over again from scratch if you let your permit expire, this is a nice service from the Sheriff’s Department.

This is my first experience at a renewal. Five years ago when I originally got my permit, no part of the process was online. Now you can download the paperwork, pay for the renewal and book an appointment to submit the paperwork. The process requires a notarized signature, so I doubt the in-person step will ever be waived, but it will be interesting to see what technological changes will occur in another five years.

Renewing a Wake County Concealed Handgun Permit (CCW)

Wake County Permit

I purchased a pistol a few weeks ago and at the time the sales person pointed out that my Concealed Handgun Permit would expire in July. It sure doesn’t feel like it’s been 5 years since it was originally issued. Here’s a link to the blog post on getting the new permit: Getting a Concealed Handgun Permit in Wake County, NC

It was February but I decided I had some free time so I’d take care of it.

The actual name attached to this permit can be confusing. The front says “CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMIT” while the back says “CCW Permit”. CCW typically stands for “concealed carry weapon”. I’m not sure why they use different terminology on the front and back. Most folks I know call this a “CCW Permit”.

I found this page that appeared to have the link to a renewal: Wake County Sheriff Office Concealed Handgun Permit Application. I filled out the form, paid by credit card ($81.59 with convenience fees) and booked an appointment to drop off my forms the following week.

A few days later I had a dentist appointment. I’m out to my dentist and my chiropractor about shooting IDPA and having my CCW and I mentioned I’d be downtown the following week. My dentist said there was a restriction on how early you could renew. I did further research and found a web page here that mentioned “no more than 90 days prior to the expiration date”. 

I was about 6 week too early so I called the contact number promptly at 9am the next morning and asked if I should reschedule the appointment within the 90 day window. The person I spoke with said they were fine if you started 4-6 months in advance. So don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

My appointment was at 1 pm on March 1, 2017. I got lucky with parking and arrived at 12:30 pm. They took me right away. I was asked to sign and date 2 pages then address an envelope to myself. Once approved, they would mail my permit in that envelope. I was done in about 15 minutes. Parking cost was $1.

Of note: I was told that if my current permit expired before receiving the renewed permit, it was OK to continue to carry, however, I could not use the expired permit to purchase any firearms.

I’ve done my part ion the renewal process. I’ll update this when my permit arrives to document how long the process it taking at this time.

 

 

 

 

Another step in the CCW journey

I have an IWB holster for my XDS, but I rarely wear it. It’s a Comtac MTAC I picked up on sale. I wear it in the 4-5 o’clock position. It’s great when standing or walking but jabs me in the back when sitting or driving. So I don’t carry very often. Mostly I carry in the console of the car – and the gun stays in the house or in the car. But that is a subject for another day.

Yesterday I got a wake up call. I ran into a friend at a social event on Saturday and he shared with me that he’d been mugged: pistol whipped and robbed in the parking lot where he lives. He wanted to talk with someone who wouldn’t freak out and would be empathetic. I was flattered by that. I hope that I was supportive in a way that was helpful to him.

It was a wake up call for me. Bad things can happen anywhere. As a single adult, I often do activities solo and one of them is walking. I headed out to Umstead Park today to hit Sal’s Branch Trail. I took the time to wear a belt, holster and gun.

They have the park office and the public bathrooms posted “No Firearms”. Yes, the bathrooms. So I have the right to protect myself on the trails but not in a isolated room with only one entrance and exit. I went through the list of options: pee on the trail if I got really desperate, remove the gun and leave it in the car then reholster in the driver’s seat (which is problematic in several ways), or break the law. None of these are attractive options.

Once on the trail, I popped in my ear buds and focused on the ground, the blaze marks and the audio book on my phone. I’ve gotten turned around on this trail before so I was also was keeping an eye on the hiker in front of me with the large dog.  At one point she stopped and turned around. I stopped and assessed the the blaze marks. I pulled out the ear buds and asked if she’d lost the trail as she approached me. She didn’t look threatening at all, just a bit confused.

She said, “I’m 6 months pregnant and I just realized this is a dumb idea. A slip and fall out here could have serious consequences.” We started a conversation. I told her I thought it was always a good idea to listen to your gut. And of course to let someone know where you have gone and when you are due back (which I will admit I really don’t do). After a bit of conversation, she asked if I minded if she walk with me so she wouldn’t be alone. I agreed. We had a nice chat. She, her dog & I all got our exercise today and I feel like I made a small difference in someone’s life.

The conversation made me realize I have some follow up to do however: I need to find someone to check in with when I take off to go walk.

The reason this is a blog entry: I never volunteered to her that I was armed. I really didn’t see the need. But I felt prepared. And this will encourage me to make the effort more often in the future.

 

 

 

Switching focus: Situational awareness and weapon access

For most of the last year I’ve shot one of my guns at least once a week. I bought a gold membership at PDHSC and while that was in effect, it was an easy decision to go to the range and shoot. I’d limit myself to 100 rounds most visits and I’d be there about an hour.For some months I had a shooting partner and we would discuss drills and ideas, but most of those trips were solo.

During that time I’ve come along way with my gun handling skills and safety awareness. I remember early on when I’d pick up a magazine and I’d have to puzzle out which direction it should face when I put it in the gun. That is now something I don’t question.

I’ve shot competitions and I’m past the point of nerves and adrenaline. I’m reasonably competent but I’m not a competitive shooter. But that isn’t improving.

With the expiration of my gold membership, I’ve decided to rethink how I’m spending my “gun time”. Continuing to put lead downrange is fun, but I’m not convinced I’m structuring my range time to be productive.

Also, with the purchase of the XDS, I want to get comfortable with carrying a gun other than at the range and at a competition. That is what prompted the last post in carrying in the car — and I appreciate all the feedback on why I should not leave the gun in the car permanently.

IMG_20130714_191834sm

I bought a Remora Concealment Holster and intend to start carrying it around the house with the gun unloaded at first just to see how this works. It has a rigid opening and doesn’t collapse when the gun is drawn, it has a flap to make it “tuckable”, there is a clip but it can be removed (it snaps on), and it’s a “sticky” holster. I tried it on in the store at 9Forward and it felt comfortable.

However, I’ve drawn from it and it’s very different from the dropped, offset holsters I’ve been using for competition. It was at this point that I realized that I might want to switch my focus from “getting better at competition” to “getting better at self-defense”. I’m not going to be able to conceal a dropped offset holster unless it’s a very cold day and I have no plans to remove my coat, so I think I need to suck it up and start working with the equipment that is practical for everyday carry — even if it’s not designed with the easy access of a competition holster.

 

Getting a Concealed Handgun Permit

I have had a few people ask about getting a Concealed Handgun Permit or Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW) License. Why might you consider this? It gives you more options for carrying guns legally and you don’t have to apply for a Pistol Purchase Permit every time you want to purchase a handgun.  You are not required to carry if you have a permit, but you have the option.

NOTE: I’m not a lawyer or a law enforcement official. I’m sharing my experience but follow my advice at your own risk. Do your own research then decide what’s right for you. 

In the state of North Carolina, you must attend an 8 hour class and pass a shooting proficiency test to apply for your permit. I was under the impression that the 8 hour class would teach tactics or basic self defense skills. I was wrong. This class is designed to present you with basic gun safety, familiarize you with the laws concerning where you can carry and to discuss justified use of deadly force. This is nothing more than a way for the state to ensure everyone with a carry permit has been exposed to the law and to basic gun safety.

I strongly encourage you to also take a defensive pistol training class. And practice. And consider shooting defensive matches to hone your skills. Do you really want to be figuring all of this out at the point where your life or the life of a loved one hangs in the balance? But I digress…

I took a class offered by the Wake County Range. The current class schedule is here. The cost was $80. The time commitment was just under 10 hours if you include the round trip drive to the range. Part of what they discuss is how to apply for the permit, what it costs and how long it takes. To get your certificate, you must pass a written test and a shooting proficiency test.

  • The written test is 50 questions which are multiple choice, true/false, or fill in the blank.
  • The shooting proficiency test requires you to fire 10 rounds each at distances of 3, 5, and 7 yards at a standard silhouette target.
  • 70% is considered a passing score for both exams.

The email confirming the class was very detailed and stated:

You will need to bring a handgun and a minimum of 50 rounds of ammunition (you may want to bring extra ammunition in case you have any issues with your handgun during the qualification course of fire). If you have an extra magazine for your pistol, or a speed loader for your revolver, please bring it. If you do not have a handgun, please let me know and I’ll arrange with the instructors for you to use one of their guns for a small fee.

I used a .22 target pistol for the class. If you pass, you can carry any caliber, regardless of what you used for your proficiency test. Don’t expect to get instruction on how to shoot. Practice that in advance. If you are going to carry on a regular basis. you should be safe and you should be proficient (for your safety and the safety of the people around you.)

NOTE: This is not the time to learn how to operate a firearm or a firearm that is new to you. Spend some time getting familiar with the gun and how it functions before you take this class. Read the owner’s manual.

There are many options for CCW (Concealed Carry Weapon) classes locally. Just be sure that the class you choose meets the 8 hour minimum and is licensed to issue a state recognized course certificate. Type “<your city> handgun training” into Google and you should find multiple options. Ask at the range where you practice. They can make referrals.

Once you have your class certificate, here’s the scoop on applying in Wake County, NC.

  • They are only open during regular business hours during the week. You may have to take time off work to visit the courthouse.
  • Download the forms, review them, and fill them out before you drive to the courthouse. My class instructor recommended making a copy of the class certificate to keep for your records.
  • The cost of $90 includes a $10 fee for being fingerprinted. The fingerprint office is right next door to the handgun permit office but they are not open from 11am to 1pm. So come earlier or later.
  • They don’t take credit cards. So bring enough cash or a check.
  • My permit took 6 weeks to be processed. They can take as long as 90 days in NC.

Total cost: $170 (class and permit application) + 8 hours of class + 50 rounds of ammunition + 1 or 2 trips to the courthouse.

Finger printed? Yes, you will be fingerprinted. That was the thing I was concerned about the most since I’ve never been fingerprinted. It made me feel as if I was throwing myself on the mercy of our judicial system and that felt scary to me. They are digital prints and I’m told that isn’t as precise as paper and ink. But you will be in the system. Since I have no aspirations toward a life of crime, I decided it was just one more thing I’d have to accept as part of paying my “gun dues”. This can be a mental journey as well as a physical one: think hard about the privacy tradeoffs.

This “feature” made available by WRAL ignited quite a bit of press about invasion of privacy: Rural areas lead in concealed weapons permit rates. You can enter any local street name and it will tell you how many permit holders live on the street. My street has four, but there are 90+ residences on the street. On streets with just a few houses, it can make it easy for the neighbors to know who carries. That can make you a target for theft. The link has been up for months and WRAL refuses to take it down.

Be aware that your permit is linked to your driver’s license. If you are pulled for a routine traffic stop and the officer runs your license he or she will see you have a concealed handgun permit. Best practice is to disclose up front and not surprise the officer. If you are not carrying it’s not required, but I personally would still disclose just to avoid that surprise. In that case, I’d say something like. “Office, I have a concealed handgun permit but I’m not carrying at this time.” If you are carrying, here’s a video I found that has a good demo of the disclosure process:
[Note: the original video was deleted so I’ve added a link to a different video as of March 2016].

When you do get that license, I want to leave you with this, from “The Cornered Cat” by Kathy Jackson:

When is the best time to tell my friends I am carrying a gun? At the same point you feel compelled to tell them what color of panties you’re wearing. — Gunhilda

More of Gunhilda’s wisdom can be found here. I highly recommend Kathy Jackson’s book for all new shooters, male or female.