Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

April 10, 2014

Run on gun licenses: Police need help as gun applications pile up

Police seek help with applications

(Continued)

“There is no backlog at the state level,” Harris said. “And we don’t expect to see the type of spike we saw last summer again for another six years. That’s when all the licenses will be up for renewal again.”

The demand has put pressure on the Andover Police Department since there is a lot of work that goes on before a license is issued.

The process starts with a background check. Once the applicant passes that review, the department then gets the person’s fingerprints, takes photographs and more, according to Heseltine.

The background work is done by Andover detectives, while the paperwork has been managed by a part-time employee.

Processing an application “takes roughly 30 days on our part of it,” Heseltine said. “Start to finish could take a couple months.”

That’s because an application, once given a green light locally, is then sent to the state’s Firearms Records Bureau for final review. If that agency signs off, it prints and sends the license back to the local department to present to the applicant.

The result is a lot of paperwork that has become backlogged, hence the need for a full-time clerk to handle gun permit applications, local police say.

“For us, the demand is there,” Heseltine said.

Because of the demand, getting to yes has taken too long lately. With around 60 to 65 applications recently “in the pipeline to be processed,” Heseltine said more help is needed.

“We’re overwhelmed with it,” he said.

LICENSE REQUESTS, BY THE NUMBERS

YEAR APPLICATIONS

2009 82

2010 124

2011 223

2012 364

2013 456

Note: Figures include applications rejected as part of background check process.

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