Background check backlog slows down gun permit applicationsPosted: Updated:
A sharp spike in the number of people seeking gun permits following recent changes in gun legislation has police departments inundated with applications.
In some cases people have been waiting months for their permits to come through, and there are many questions about whether the process is bogged down by unnecessary steps.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News has been digging to get to the bottom of why there is such a tremendous backlogs in criminal background checks that are now required for gun permit applicants.
"I was told I needed to learn to be patient," said Dayna Going.
Going said she has been waiting nearly five months for her permit to be approved.
"You know, it was my right," she said. "I believe I was entitled to some sort of explanation."
The application process works like this: All applicants are fingerprinted by their local police department, and they are then sent to both Connecticut State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to check for any offenses that may disqualify them from having a pistol permit.
"There are many times we'll do 200 to 250 and we'll eliminate them from the system and another 350 applications will come I," said Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance.
The unit responsible for classifying the fingerprints is working hard, but police said it's time consuming task.
"As of today the backlog was just over 4,800 fingerprint cards," Vance said.
But some local departments said there may be a solution to the backlog. There is a machine that is an automated fingerprinting system that scans a person's fingerprint and within an hour, runs them through state and FBI criminal databases.
South Windsor Police Chief Matthew Reed said local departments have the technology and use it in criminal cases, but are still required to send inked fingerprints to the state and the FBI for manual processing.
"Our question as issuing authorities is why, when we send our print to the lab, if this can be done electronically?" he asked.
The machine is also able to tell immediately if the prints are smudged or unreadable, two things that slow down the manual reading process.
"There are bumps in the road at times where a card has to be returned because it's not completed," Vance said. "It's not legible and it needs to be redone. When that card comes back it goes to the bottom of the pile."
While some departments think using an automated system would speed up the process, folks waiting for the process said they wish the entire process was more efficient.
"I can check my car registration online," Going said. "I can check my IRS tax return online, I don't understand why, in 2013, why I can't just put in simple information about myself to find out if my application is just pending."
When it comes to the automated fingerprinting, Vance said the state police don't have the necessary software to receive fingerprints from local police departments through that system.
He said they're working towards getting that specific software, but like everything else, costs money.
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