DOBSON — Want to apply for a gun permit in your underwear? Soon, that will be an option.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners gave a nod Monday night to a proposal proffered by Sheriff Graham Atkinson that will allow county residents to apply for gun permits online.
“We’ve been looking at it for several months, and there are several companies who do it,” Atkinson said. “What we want to do as a matter of convenience for the public is to try to increase their ability to access gun permits.”
Atkinson said at the moment gun permit applications are only available at his office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“Many work schedules don’t accommodate those hours,” he noted.
The plan is for applicants to be able to log onto a website and enter their purchase permit information. The company, Permitium, will collect the information, organize it and send it to Atkinson’s office.
“We’ll do the background information check and if the person is eligible, we’ll issue the permit,” the sheriff said.
The new process, once online, should speed up applications and save applicants the hassle of having to go to Atkinson’s office twice — once to apply and a second time to pick up the permit.
“Once the permit is ready, they’ll receive an email notifying them and they can pick up their permit,” he said.
For residents who may not have access to a computer at home, Atkinson said one will be set up at his office for use.
“If they want to come in, they can either do it by hand or use the computer that’s available,” he said. “We’re also installing a credit card machine in our office because in the past it’s been a cash-only proposition and people would come in and we couldn’t make change so we’d have to send them to the bank.
“In this day of debit cards we want to be able to have them just swipe their card, make a payment and be on their way.”
The new system will be cost-free to the county, although Atkinson said anyone choosing to apply online will have to pay a $3 processing fee to Permitium.
Online applications will only apply to gun permits, he said.
“With the concealed carry permit the person has to be fingerprinted, so they will still have to come into the office,” he said.
Atkinson said the new procedure is being put in place simply to be more accessible to the public.
“We hope this is a matter of convenience for the public,” he said. “We want to make things as easy as possible. Yesterday, I had a man I know well come into the office at two minutes to five. He had to leave work early because his work schedule wouldn’t let him get here when we’re open.
“This is a way for the public to have more access to permits.”
The sheriff said he plans on having the online application system up and running by Aug. 1.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.