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Sheriff’s office starting online firearms application process

Sheriff Mike Slupe and clerk Melissa Cunningham scan a driver's license for an application for a license to carry a firearm Tuesday, Sept. 12, in the sheriff's office in the Butler County Government Center. Steve Ferris/Butler Eagle

People who want to apply for, or renew, a license to carry a firearm now have the option to do so online through Butler County Sheriff Mike Slupe’s office.

Through a contract the county commissioners approved in July with Permitium LLC, the online application process is being offered as an option to the current system that requires people to go to the sheriff’s office to apply for a new license or a renewal.

“Everything you need to do is right there online,” Slupe said. “This is an option for the applicant.”

The online application, which is available at, provides a way to avoid delays that sometimes occur with the Pennsylvania Instant Check System, or PICS, the state’s computerized instant background check system, Slupe said. The sheriff’s office’s website has a link to the application site.

“PICS is the unknown as to how long it will take,” Slupe said.

He said when long delays occur with the state system, his staff will ask applicants to come back the next day to pick up their licenses instead of waiting at the office.

Permitium charges a $5 fee, and a $1.13 credit card fee is added. A $20 application fee is assessed when applying online or in person.

Online applicants start the process by agreeing to Permitium’s terms. They will have to upload the front and back of their driver’s licenses. Licensees seeking a renewal will also have to upload their existing license. Each applicant has to create a password and user name.

The questions on the online application are the same as the in-person application, and online applications are processed through the same state background check system as the in-person applications, Slupe said.

Permitium will notify applicants by their choice of phone, text or email, or by all three means, when their applications have been approved or denied, he said.

Approved applicants have to go to the sheriff’s office to pick up their licenses within 10 days of receiving notice from Permitium, Slupe said. They will have to bring their driver’s licenses, get photographed and sign the license.

“You get notified to come and pick it up,” Slupe said.

Those who are denied will receive a link to a form they have to submit if they want to challenge the denial, and their credit cards will receive a $15 credit as a refund.

Slupe said his office will install a QR code on its website that will take mobile phone users directly to the application site.

He said 13 other counties use Permitium to process gun license applications and he is not aware of any complaints about the company.

With 35,705 issued firearms licenses, Butler County ranks 11th among counties in the state, just behind Erie County, which has about 38,000, Slupe said.

Philadelphia County leads the state with more than 126,000, followed by Allegheny County with about 121,000. Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, Westmoreland and York counties have between 49,000 and 81,000.

“We have a great population of license to carry holders. This is a great option to complete an application online,” he said.

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