RALEIGH — A N.C. House bill, which originally sought to loosen pistol permits regulations by allowing North Carolina sheriffs to issue permits to residents of neighboring counties, has been altered to remove the pistol permit requirement entirely.
The NC Sheriffs’ Association had previously opposed changes in the state’s permit system, but is on board with the updated version of the bill.
The bill’s primary sponsors are Reps. Jay Adams (R-Catawba), George Cleveland (R-Onslow), Edward Goodwin (R-Chowan), and Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck).
House Bill 398 originally sought to grant authority to county sheriff offices to issue a pistol purchase permit to “a resident of any contiguous county” if the current permit requirements are met. That original bill also allowed for a sheriff to decline to issue such a permit to a neighboring county resident; however, it would have required written documentation of the reasons for declining.
The current version of the bill would repeal the requirement of obtaining a pistol purchase permit before purchasing or transferring a handgun. The changes would also apply to a concealed handgun permit.
“The sheriffs have voted to support repeal of the pistol purchase permit law,” general counsel for the NC Sheriffs’ Association Eddie Caldwell told North State Journal.
Caldwell said the reason for the change in position is that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has progressed over the years.
“One of the big problems in the past was the mental health records were not uploaded into NICS by the state,” said Caldwell. “A number of years ago the General Assembly funded that project and the Administrative Office of the Courts worked very carefully with the clerk of courts to get to get that data – all the way back to 1985 – uploaded into the NICS system.”
Caldwell explained that the pistol permit purchase was an alternative to NICS. He said that since firearm sellers are performing NICS checks on purchasers, pistol permits were now “duplicative.”
“The sheriffs feel like it was a very valuable system that has just outlived its use,” Caldwell said. “So, they are in favor of the General Assembly repealing it.”
Several state statutes would be repealed or altered by the bill, such as ending the records of permits kept by a sheriff.
“We are encouraged to see that the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association now agrees to bring gun purchases in North Carolina into the 21st Century by eliminating our Jim Crow-era permit system and requiring background checks at point of sale,” Grassroots North Carolina president Paul Valone said in a statement.
Grassroots North Carolina is a 501(c)4 firearm advocacy group dedicated to preserving constitutional freedoms and protecting the right to bear arms.
“Given that a recent UNC School of Law paper found that in Wake County, black applicants are being denied permits three times more often than whites, it is clear that racism in issuing permits continues to this day,” said Valone. “Consequently, we are calling upon Democrat legislators to join in repealing this racist law.”
The bill was approved by the House Rules, Calendar and Operations Committee on April 20.