From The Morning Call
Gun license carries less red tape
Northampton County has streamlined process through a digital camera.
By Tyra Braden
Of The Morning Call
January 15, 2002
Northampton County has streamlined the procedure for getting a license to carry a gun.
Sheriff Jeffrey Hawbecker on Friday said the department has a digital camera set up that will allow potential license holders to have photo identification cards made and applications reviewed in one step.
Under the old system, Hawbecker said, people who wanted a license had to go to the county's revenue department, pay a $19 fee, fill out an application, turn the application in to the sheriff's department, have two photos taken elsewhere and return with them. One photo is kept on file.
He said that numerous times, applicants had left information off the application and had to refile. The new system, in operation now, should cut down on problems.
Hawbecker said applicants will pay a $29 fee at the revenue department and get an application. Instead of filling out the form and having a signature witnessed in the revenue department, he said, the applicant will take the form to the sheriff's department, and fill out and sign it in the presence of a deputy. The deputy will review the form and look for problems, then take the applicant's photo for an ID card.
The sheriff said eligible applicants will receive their licenses after the routine state and local checks are completed.
The $10 cost increase was determined after a survey, in which officials found that most people were paying $10 or $20 for a photo to be placed on the license, Hawbecker said.
Aside from the convenience to residents, Hawbecker said, the new system will offer added safety features. The photo ID license will look similar to a driver's license, and because it will be encased in plastic, forgeries and alterations will be more difficult.
In addition, he said, the department will have photos on computer disks, so lost licenses will be easily replaced. The system also will allow the department to notify people when their licenses are about to expire. A license is valid for five years.
Sgt. Frank Karvan supervises the licensing program. Hawbecker said the service is available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Hawbecker said most surrounding counties, including Lehigh, Monroe and Berks, have similar systems. The camera was included in his budget and cost $10,000 to $12,000. County Council approved the $10 increase in the license fee.