Bill would help deal with rising permit requests

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is being swamped by applications for concealed weapon permits.

A House panel advanced Wednesday a bill that raises the $50 application fee to $75 to help the agency deal with the increased volume. It also allows gun owners to apply online, speeding up the process. SLED hopes to have an automated system in place within six months.

According to SLED's statistics, the agency approved nearly 42,600 new permits in 2012. That's almost 18,000 more new permits when compared to the previous year.

SLED spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson says the agency is also considering creating a second shift of workers just to process the applications. The bill updating the 17-year-old law would not change the requirement that SLED issue a permit or denial within 90 days.

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