Local News

Bill would end local permits for pistol purchases

Posted April 23, 2009 10:16 p.m. EDT
Updated April 25, 2009 10:41 p.m. EDT

— A bill before the state Senate would repeal a law requiring North Carolina sheriff's offices to issue a permit before residents can buy a pistol.

"There should be no infringement on a person's ability to purchase a gun," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Doug Berger, D-Franklin County.

Gun control advocates were shocked when they learned of the bill.

"How can this be the response, that we want to to make it easier (to get guns)?" said Roxane Kolar, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence.

Berger argued that leaving it up to local sheriffs to decide whether to issue a person a gun permit is too subjective.

"We need to begin to look at those laws that are on our books that were written at a time when people did not fully appreciate the Second Amendment," the senator said.

Kolar argued that local sheriffs are precisely the people who should be making such decisions, since they will likely know who the local troublemakers are.

"They have privileged information that is not going to be on a database at the federal level," Kolar said.

The state bill would not repeal national law that requires prospective pistol and crossbow buyers to pass an instant federal background check.

Jim Slaughter, owner of Zebulon Jewelry and Pawn, said the separate state- and federal-level checks aren't needed.

"In my opinion, it is kind of redundant," he said.

Slaughter said that most of his customers looking at pistols are shopping for protection. "They are good to keep in the nightstand by the bed," he said.

Kolar said, though, that doing two checks makes the gun-buying process safer.

"Not everything can end up on your background check," she said.

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence has sent out more than 2,000 emails opposing the legislation, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce about a month ago.