WRAL Investigates

Online applications bypass NC concealed carry permit process

Posted April 23, 2015

— The process to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon in North Carolina is pretty simple.

By law, applicants must take a handgun safety course, complete an application, pay a fee, have their fingerprints on file and allow the local sheriff's office to check into their mental health record.

North Carolina has reciprocity with 36 other states, meaning concealed carry permits issued by the Tar Heel State are recognized in those states and vice versa. But not all those states have the same requirements.

Virginia, for example, asks only that permit applicants pay a fee and take an online test. They watch a gun safety video, answer questions and are finished in about 20 minutes.

"Online is not training. It's information," certified North Carolina gun instructor Larry Wegman said. "They don't fire a shot, and they don't learn anything about the law.

"North Carolina has a fairly high standard for concealed carry permit holders, and this bypasses that standard completely," Wegman said.

By contrast, North Carolina requires eight hours of classroom safety training before concealed carry applicants even reach the firing range.

In his classes, instructor John Neblett reviews the law, especially as it pertains to self-defense and the use of deadly force.

"You only want to fight if you absolutely have to, and the use of a firearm is a last resort," Neblett tells his students. "If you started the fight, you lose your right to claim self-defense."

North Carolina's reciprocity agreement pre-dates the evolution of online-only applications, and some lawmakers are looking to tighten up the rules. Two years ago, a state senator proposed that North Carolina stop recognition of concealed carry permits issued by other states, but that bill went nowhere.

NC residents with concealed carry permits from Virginia

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Buffie Raynor, who travels for business, decided to carry a gun for protection, and she welcomed the intensive training. She worries that others won't have that same level of understanding.

"I don't think an online course should be able to certify you to carry a concealed weapon," Raynor said.

Neblett is more conflicted. He doesn't think the government should dictate to gun owners.

"I'm not going to stand here and support state-mandated training understanding the right to carry," he said.

What Raynor and Wegman see as a problem is a non-issue for Paul Valone, spokesman for the gun-rights group Grassroots NC.

"The notion of 'doing something' about concealed handgun permit-holders who have reciprocal privileges in North Carolina, whether from Virginia or elsewhere, is a solution in search of a problem," Valone said in a statement.

Valone said his group is "unaware of even a single problem" with out-of-state permit-holders, much less a trend. The same is true in other states, he said.

"In the era of the Internet, even airline pilots do required training online. Why should that be a problem?" he said.

Valone speculated that gun safety instructors may be looking more at their own bottom line.

"When I have seen instructors object to relaxing training standards in the past, their positions seemed to correlate with the money they make (or won’t make) from training," he said.


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  • Gerald Belton Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Mark Cline's class was great, my wife and I learned a lot from him when we got our permits. And Mark, the reason Vermont doesn't show up on the reciprocity list is because Vermont doesn't issue permits... in Vermont, as in Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming, it is legal for anyone to carry a concealed handgun, no permit required. Of note: Vermont has essentially NO gun laws, Vermont residents own more firearms per capita than any other state, and Vermont has the lowest murder rate and the lowest incarceration rate of any state.

  • Alan Baker Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Sounds like a solid curriculum for anyone planning to own a firearm, concealed or not.

  • Alan Baker Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Indeed, Just like anyone who buys a car either already knows how to use it safely or will soon learn...if they don't kill themselves or an innocent bystander first.

  • Mark Cline Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    If anyone out there is not happy with their course, or the instructor's methods, please let Ed Zapolsky know. He is the man in charge of instructors statewide.

    Email: ezapolsky@ncdoj.gov

  • Mark Cline Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    The MOST important part of the class is SAFETY! I spend about 5-6 hours on safe handling of firearms; safe storage to protect minors and deter thieves; ammunition construction, function, safety, and the basic types of bullets and their purposes. I also cover various types of holsters and carry methods, presentation methods, range safety, etc. Then, we go out to my range where there is a range safety briefing, course of fire briefing, individual shooting for qualification, cleaning and maintenance demonstration. Then, we go back to the classroom for 2 hours of legal instruction, the test, and conclusion.

    I use a 50 question test that covers all aspects of the class with 34 questions being on the legal issues and application of the law in scenarios. My PowerPoint presentation is 92 slides and I use 5 handguns to demonstrate how they function, and what features to look for in a defensive carry gun.

    That's the way I do it.

  • Patrick Demby Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Ah yes, the 'bypass', where one gets a CCW in a different state. L-O-L.

    The usual liberal garbage from WRAL. Good job, guys! Hahahahaha, mental midgets.

  • Dean Logan Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Well, at least WRAL didn't post the locations of the CCW holders in the state, again.

  • Don Clark Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    WRAL misleading the public again. There's no way for anyone here to bypass the requirements of a NC CCW permit by using an online course. All they found is that 5 states allow their residents to use online training. Why no mention of those states that don't require any training, or CCW permit at all?

  • Matt Price Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Yeah - No, it does not.

    I bet you a dime to a dollar WRAL didn't even try.

  • Jeff Johnson Apr 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Time would have better been spent on Shaneen Allen's story and how some states abuse the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. It's a travesty that a state will deny a Nurse who is serving the public (in good and bad neighborhoods) the right to have self protection. These jabs at the second amendment by media (especially the highly biased and increasingly useless AP) are an affront to US citizens. This article missed the mark in so many ways.