New firearms bill would repeal pistol permits

Posted June 2, 2015

— Come 2021, North Carolina residents would no longer need a permit when buying handguns under a redrafted omnibus firearms bill that circulated among members of the General Assembly on Tuesday night.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to vet the new version of House Bill 562 at 9 a.m. Wednesday. According to a summary of the bill provided to committee members, the measure still contains provisions related to how doctors ask patients about firearms in their homes, although the language is looser than in earlier versions of the bill.

Advocates for and against the measure were at the state Capitol on Tuesday. The lobbying group Moms Demand Action pressured lawmakers to turn back the bill, focusing particularly on the pistol permit provision. Meanwhile, the pro-gun lobbying group Grass Roots North Carolina pressured lawmakers to pass the bill.

The most scrutiny has focused on a provision that would repeal North Carolina's pistol purchase permit system. As originally drafted, the bill would have ended the state's pistol permit system in 2018. The measure up for consideration Wednesday morning would extend the system's life for an additional three years.

Until 2021, the bill would impose more restrictions on reasons why a sheriff could reject a permit. It would also allow federally licensed firearms dealers to sell a handgun to someone without a pistol purchase permit if they run a background check independent of the sheriff.

"That's going to effectively do away with the permits," said Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president of the North Carolina Sheriff's Association.

Federally licensed firearm dealers must run a background check when they sell any kind of firearm, whether it be a pistol or rifle, unless the buyer has a purchase permit or a concealed weapons permit.

However, private sales – transactions by non-federally-licensed individuals at gun shows or other person-to-person transactions – aren't governed by those rules. Right now, an individual does not need to undergo a background check to buy a rifle or shotgun from a private seller.

But current North Carolina law does require anyone buying a handgun, whether from a private seller or not, to get a pistol purchase permit from their local sheriff. In order to obtain such a permit, which is good for five years, individuals must submit to a background check.

Caldwell said that sheriffs ask questions that aren't covered by standard background checks.

"It's not just random information," he said. "It's information that's directly related to reasons people are prohibited from obtaining a firearm."

Grass Roots North Carolina argues that law is a holdover from the Jim Crow era and is often ignored today.

"We have 100 sheriffs and 100 sets of issuing criteria," GRNC President Paul Valone said in a recent news conference. "We feel the point-of-purchase background check more than offsets any other provisions."

Opponents disagree.

"This law has been the important backbone of public safety in here North Carolina, keeping guns out of the hands of felons, domestic abusers and the severely mentally ill," Sarah Green, of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, said of the pistol purchase permit provision during a news conference by that group.


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  • Pat Demby Jun 3, 2015
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    Did those clowns mention automatic clips with the shoulder thing that goes up? Maybe throw in some 'weapons of the battlefield' for extra drama?

  • David Bunn Jun 3, 2015
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    So why must we wait so long for this to happen? The permit system needs to be retire immediately.

  • Matt Wood Jun 3, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    By that logic all laws should be repealed since criminals are always going to break the law...

  • La'King Henry Jun 3, 2015
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    Making it easier for any wacko to get a gun is a bad idea

  • Michael Jones Jun 3, 2015
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    After hearing some of the audio from the committee meeting this morning concerning this bill, I am struck by how ignorant of this bill the Mom's Demand Action group is. It is truly startling. I don't know why WRAL gives this group any publicity. They are a Michael Bloomberg astroturf group and nothing more. It would be refreshing to actually hear from some of these misguided moms who have actually read the bill, and understands the current law on the So sad.

  • Chris Weaver Jun 3, 2015
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    "North Carolina residents would no longer need permit"
    Stupid fool .....
    The PPP is a revenue generator and that is all. I can get felons to sign one for me and if refused or turned down by the sheriff I can sue him into oblivion and he knows it.

  • Pat Orsban Jun 3, 2015
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    Interesting. During the height of gun control, when the sheriffs had this same Jim Crow law, the shootings were twice as bad and often. SO they did not help then. Now, with lots of law abiding armed citizens out and about, and the shootings continue to drop, logic says the Jim Crow sheriff permitting system has to go. It did no good during liberal fits of gun control, and does no good now, with fits of liberal paranoia. I am amazed how frightened and whiny liberals get when they hallucinate other groups of people as being dangerous. Like they did with blacks sitting at the white counter.

  • Michael Jones Jun 3, 2015
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    Thank you to Mark Binker for including the link to the amended bill.

  • Michael Jones Jun 3, 2015
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    Eddie Caldwell is just a mad lobbyist that would rather keep a racist inspired Jim Crow era bill because it lines his pockets. HB562 is a common sense bill that needs to be passed ASAP.

  • Jackie Kylander Jun 2, 2015
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    About time. Run the Federal check for each pistol purchase, not just accept the permit. Heck, when I had those permits, they were simply a white piece of paper with the Sheriff's seal on them. Easy enough to counterfeit and the article makes note that if you had a permit, the dealer didn't have to check the Federal system. Each Sheriff had his/her own criteria for issuing a permit and up until recently, could deny you for any reason. Denying legal purchase would not keep guns out of the hands of felons as Ms. Green asserts. Felons don't care one whit about the law and will obtain firearms illegally without a second thought.