The process requires state police to either issue or deny a license within 15 days of receiving an electronic application — down from the 60-day processing period allowed for paper applications.
Supporters of the process, including the National Rifle Association, say the change improves access to concealed-carry permits at a time when demand is high. Kentucky issued more than 59,500 permits in 2013, compared with 10,900 in 2004.
“If we can get these applications processed and back to people in two weeks, instead of two months, that is better for everyone,” said Sara Beth Gregory, a former Republican state senator and key proponent of the change.
However, there are also those who oppose the process.
Rep. Jim Wayne, a Louisville Democrat opposed to the new rules, says state police are already hurting for personnel and that having officials process applications within 15 days could result in mistakes, such as approving permits for people with criminal histories.
In an e-mail to The Courier-Journal last week, the officials at the state police department said the transition has been smooth and that several hundred people have used it to apply for new permits or renew old permits. They reported no problems meeting the 15-day deadline or performing criminal background checks, which are required for licenses.
“We are able to adapt to any changes and have not experienced any unexpected issues,” Kentucky State Police Sgt. Norman Preston said in the e-mail. “We are expecting to see a gradual increase (in use) after the general public has been made aware.”
While the time it takes to be approved for an application has been significantly reduced, the requirement to obtain one have not. To obtain a permit, applicants still must complete an in-person training course on Kentucky law and the basics of firearm safety. They also must pass the background check and need a valid e-mail address to register an account.