How does a citizen apply for a license-to-carry permit? Luzerne County Sheriff Brian Szumski has provided information on the process, as well as some of the laws behind the permits.
Q. Who is eligible to apply for a concealed carry permit?
A. To be eligible to obtain a license to carry firearms applicants must be Luzerne County residents or an out of state license holder, who, on the date of application are 21 years old and meet specific criteria. Those applicants who do not meet the criteria are not eligible for a license to carry firearms.
Some of the criteria include:
• The applicant’s character and reputation is such that the applicant would not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.
• The applicant, within the past 10 years, has not been adjudicated delinquent for a crime enumerated in Section 6105 or for an offense under The Controlled Substance, Drug Device and Cosmetic Act.
• The applicant is not a fugitive from justice.
• The applicant has not been discharged from the armed forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions.
• The applicant is of sound mind and has never been committed to a mental institution.
• The applicant is not addicted to or is an unlawful user of marijuana or a stimulant, depressant or narcotic drug.
Q. Where can applications be submitted?
A: Applications must be submitted in person to the Licensing Division of the Sheriff’s Department located in the basement of the Luzerne County Court House at 200 N. River St., Wilkes-Barre from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Q. Once the application is submitted, what happens next? How long does the process take?
A. Once the application is submitted a background check is conducted to verify that the applicant meets the criteria listed in the first question. Once the background check is conducted the applicant’s information, picture and signature are electronically recorded. At this point the applicant is either issued, denied, or notified that further investigation of their application for a license to carry firearms need to be conducted.
It is very difficult to answer to last portion of the question with a definitive time. A portion of the background check is conducted using the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS). This system is utilized by all of the Sheriff’s Offices/Departments throughout the commonwealth, in addition to every firearm dealer throughout the commonwealth. Due to the high volume of license-to-carry applicants, and persons purchasing firearms, this system at times becomes very backlogged which leads to very long wait times.
Q. Do citizens always have to have a conceal carry permit if they have a firearm? Are there any exceptions?
A. Citizens do not need to have a license-to-carry permit to own a firearm. A license-to-carry gives a citizen the ability to legally carry a firearm in their vehicle and carry a firearm concealed “on or about their person.” Some exceptions to the license requirement would be:
• Having a firearm in your home.
• Law Enforcement Officers
• Military Personnel (while on duty)