TOPEKA — Kansas’ attorney general acknowledged Thursday that his office is taking longer than the 90 days set by state law to process applications for permits to carry concealed guns but said such delays should be eliminated by the end of this month.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt said a record number of applications each of the past three months created the problem, even though he’s increased the number of employees reviewing the requests. Schmidt’s office received more than 10,800 applications from January through March, and he said it’s typically taking a few more days than 90 to process them.
Some gun-rights supporters are frustrated, particularly because in neighboring Missouri – where local sheriffs handle applications – the law specifies a 45-day review. Patricia Stoneking, president of the Kansas State Rifle Association, said her group has received dozens of complaints in recent weeks.
And John Altevogt, an Edwardsville real estate broker and longtime conservative Republican activist, filed a complaint against Schmidt and unnamed staffers Wednesday with the state office that investigates allegations of professional misconduct against attorneys. Altevogt’s complaint said he’d been told by the attorney general’s office that it could take close to 150 days to process applications.
Schmidt said he understands gun owners’ frustrations, and he’s committed to processing their applications within 90 days. But the attorney general, also a Republican, said the crush of applications created a “bubble” in recent weeks.
“I’m expecting that in very short order – certainly by the end of the month, and I think, before – we’ll be back within that 90-day window,” Schmidt said. “I think we have enough resources deployed now.”
The attorney general’s office had five staffers dedicated to reviewing concealed-carry applications a year ago and now has 11 working on them.
But Altevogt noted the law says that within 90 days of receiving an application, the attorney general shall either issue the permit or deny it for a limited number of reasons. Altevogt said that if Schmidt’s office can’t process an application quickly enough, it’s obligated to issue a permit, with the understanding that the office can revoke it later.
“It’s just sort of sad to me that the state’s top law enforcement officer is violating the law, perhaps hundreds of times a day,” Altevogt said.
About 53,300 people have active Kansas concealed-carry permits. Before this year, the monthly record for applications was 1,651 in March 2012.
In January 2013, Schmidt’s office received 3,167 applications. The figures were 3,573 in February and 4,072 in March. Gun-rights supporters attribute the increased interest in obtaining permits to discussions by federal officials of new gun-control measures following December’s mass, fatal school shooting in Newtown, Conn.