My friend recently bought a gun — a small pistol from Gander Mountain. She said they did the background check, which she passed in a matter of minutes, on site. Within an hour, about the same amount of time as it takes to buy a new cellphone, she walked out with her weapon.
A week later, she asked me to come with her to apply for a license to carry a firearm. The applications are processed in the sheriff’s office at the York County Judicial Center. We went on her lunch break.
We passed through a metal detector at the front door and made our way to the back, where the office was located. My friend brought with her $20 in cash and her Pennsylvania state ID.
An employee passed her a form. There were a few people milling around the office. A couple — the woman petite, small and blonde, the man taller and muscular — picked up their licenses. The application was brief. It took under five minutes to complete. She was asked to provide two references (I was one of them. I was never contacted to vouch for her.) and an office worker photocopied her ID.
We were in and out of the office with enough time to spare for a stop for lunch before she had to be back at her office.
A week later, I got another call from her, saying her application had been approved and she could pick up her license. Back in the sheriff’s office, we met more people picking up or applying for licenses. An employee snapped a picture of my friend in front of a gray background and printed it on a card, then called for the next person in line — an old woman wearing a pink polo who was little more than five feet tall.
In less than twenty minutes, my friend, who has had no formal training in firearm safety, was approved to carry a concealed weapon.
The license is good for five years — that’s longer than a Pennsylvania driver’s license is valid for.