New firearms bill would repeal pistol permits
A sweeping firearms bill would phase out North Carolina's current handgun purchase permit system in 2021 and place limits on background checks for handguns in the mean time.Posted — Updated
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.
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