March 29, 2023
North Carolina’s Legislature Has Opportunity to Right a Wrong
General Assembly Can Override Gov. Cooper’s Veto of Jim Crow-Era Law
North Carolina’s General Assembly is at a decision point. It can vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill to repeal a Jim Crow-era law requiring a permit-to-purchase a pistol. Or, it can allow the governor’s appeasement of special interest gun control groups to keep a law, rooted in racism, in place. This law was designed to deprive North Carolinians of their Second Amendment rights, especially African Americans.
Gov. Cooper vetoed North Carolina’s Senate Bill 41. That’s legislation that would repeal the state’s outdated requirement for citizens to obtain a pistol purchase permit from their local sheriff before they could legally purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed firearm retailer. Given the advances in technology and the background check process, a permit-to-purchase a pistol is redundant and unnecessary. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) provides an almost instant and up-to-date background check for firearm retailers on those customers wishing to purchase a firearm. The NICS system is used across the country to verify that firearms sold at retail are only transferred to those in good standing with the law.
Century-Old Discriminatory Law
North Carolina’s permit-to-purchase law is 104 years old, enacted in 1919. The law requires county sheriffs to approve permits for handgun buyers to obtain and undergo a background check. It also requires sheriffs to evaluate a “good moral character.”
That subjective requirement is problematic.
“(The law) was actually facilitated for the denial of handguns to African Americans,” said state Sen. Jim Perry, one of the bill’s sponsors.
He explained that when the laws were enacted in 1919, in order to obtain a handgun permit, a sheriff would have to declare a person as of “good moral character,” according to The Daily Tar Heel.
“That’s too much arbitrary power for anyone to have,” Perry said.
That subjective requirement is also Constitutionally-specious. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision struck down New York’s concealed carry permitting law that relied on authorities evaluating character. Gov. Cooper relied on the state’s ability to evaluate character when he vetoed the legislation repealing the state’s pistol permitting requirements. The governor’s statement claimed that sheriffs need to be able “refuse a permit based on signs of mental illness, domestic abuse incidents that might not be captured in a national database, or other indicators that a person could be a danger to themselves or others.”
That’s a red herring. There are systems in place for that. Those adjudicated as mentally-defective by a court are listed as prohibited individuals by FBI NICS. The same applies to domestic abusers. Keeping the permitting scheme in place actually makes North Carolina less safe because the permits are active for five years. That means someone who receives a permit and later subsequently commits a crime that would make them prohibited from purchasing a firearm would still have the permit. The FBI NICS checks that buyer each and every time a purchase is attempted.
N.C. Sheriffs Want Change
North Carolina’s Sheriffs Association Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eddie Caldwell told media in 2021 that advances made by the FBI NICS caused them to support repealing the antiquated permit-to-purchase system.
“Now that those records are uploaded, the [National Instant Criminal Background] check and the pistol permit are duplicative,” he said.
Senate Bill 41 would do more to protect North Carolina communities. The legislation would require state agencies to educate the public about the importance of the safe storage of firearms and to facilitate the distribution of gun locks. That is an initiative the firearm industry supports. NSSF’s Project ChildSafe® has distributed over 40 million free firearm safety kits, including locking devices in partnership with 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories.
The state’s Department of Public Safety would be required to publish information on safe firearm storage methods and how to obtain storage devices, efforts supported by the firearm industry. That education would also include suicide prevention education, another initiative supported by NSSF. The firearm industry partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to provide educational materials to firearm retailers and ranges to have a “brave conversation” and prevent suicides.
North Carolina’s legislature can show the governor what true gun safety looks like by overriding Gov. Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 41. These are Real Solutions® This legislation protects Second Amendment rights and improves the state’s efforts to keep communities safe.
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