North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
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UPDATE: North Carolina residents can now buy a handgun without getting a permit from a local sheriff, after the Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday overrode the Democratic governor’s veto — a first since 2018.

The House voted 71-46 to enact the bill, which eliminates the longstanding permit system requiring sheriffs to perform character evaluations and criminal history checks of pistol applicants. The Senate overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto in a party-line vote on Tuesday.

The permit repeal takes effect immediately. 

Those who purchase pistols from a gun store or a federally licensed dealer are still subject to a national background check, and concealed weapons permits are still required.

Bill supporters say the sheriff screening process for handguns was no longer necessary in light of significant updates to the national background check system. They also argue the permit system wasn’t very effective at preventing criminals from obtaining guns.

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association supports the repeal in light of national system updates, but its current president does not.


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 That’s legislation that would repeal the state’s outdated requirement for citizens to obtain a pistol purchase permit from their local sheriff before they could legally purchase a handgun from a federally-licensed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.

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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.”

FBI NICS

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’s 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.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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44 COMMENTS

      • Can’t happen fast enough. And I swear to God, if Cooper isn’t thrown out on his ass next go-around I’m gonna lose my mind. I’m convinced the GOP threw that last election.

        • @ChoseDeath He’s termed out, bud…. We should focus on preventing his heir Stein from taking the helm and MAYBE looking for someone a little more palatable than Robinson to run in the Republican primary.

        • Hey Matt, thank you! I didn’t know that, that’s good to know. We disagree on Mark Robinson, I love that guy. But we’re 100% in agreement on Stein, we need to go in the opposite direction.

  1. Well damn didn’t even know this existed…….so is this the same legislation as constitutional carry or is that a separate bil?

    • That’s separate. This means you can carry in any church, and no more going to the Sherriff’s office to buy a Pistol Purchase Permit every time you want to buy a handgun.

      • Wow here I thought that was only NY. Best of luck getting rid of that abomination and hopefully we will litigate it out of existence on our end over the decade.

        • Permit-less (constitutional) carry never made it through our legislature after it was floated a few years ago. A handful of our more liberal Sheriffs had a hissy fit and all the usual suspect cowed before the “experts.”

          They were really just annoyed that the free money for permits was going to dry up

        • Exactly what Matt said. God I hate Mecklenburg County. @Safe, same good luck to you amigo!

  2. I don’t have to beg Sheriff Good Ol’ Boy for a gun “permit” anymore?

    Moot. Don’t live there.

    • Be the change you want to be ……… although I guess saying that to you could be considered incitement.

  3. Cooper is the problem! The State Legislature together keep coming up with GREAT laws – Voter ID, stopping duplicative gun permit laws, and more anti-American provisions – and the governor has vetoed them every single year????

    Time to override any Veto of this far left socialist/communist governor and Make North Carolina Great Again!

    • Amen brother. I’m still really, REALLY pissed about that voter ID one. Overwhelming majority of the people voted yes, and that piece of shit vetoed it, AND it never got challenged?! He needs to go.

  4. I’m a bit confused about the section of the article that reads:

    “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.”

    wouldn’t state-issue carry permit do essentially the same thing?

    • “wouldn’t state-issue carry permit do essentially the same thing?”

      I believe you are correct. However, you must remember that Keane isn’t necessarily a supporter of constitutional rights for individuals quite so much as he’s a mouthpiece for the firearms industry. He’s happy with whatever happens to grease the skids of firearms sales. NSSF, and by extension Keane, is deathly afraid of losing the protection of the PLCAA. They are also happy with the NICS check system, because it provides them an additional measure of cover, in terms of who is allowed to purchase from FFLs. Keane is a paid lawyer, and you’re not his client, and you need to read his fine print.

    • No, that’s correct. The NC purchase permit is an actual piece of paper that gets handed over to the FFL as part of the purchase. It also allows the NICS check to be bypassed since it’s assumed that the local SO has run one before issuing the permit. Once you hand it/them over it’s been “spent”. Also, to my certain knowledge (it’s been a while since I lived there) there’s no system for tracking who got issued permits or how many they have. It’s nothing like the CCW permit which is handled by the State Police, who will know pretty quickly if a CCW holder becomes a prohibited person.

    • That’s a mis-statement. I have lived in NC for the past 3 1/2 years, and belong to the NC Grassroots 2A group.
      In NC there was a two-tier system. We are a shall-issue state. Our carry permits are good for five (5) years, and you simply present your carry permit and matching driver’s license to the gun dealer, pay for your handgun, fill out the usual 4473, and walk out with your gun, no NICS done. You can renew your permit for the first renewal online.
      If you did not get your carry permit, you had to apply online to your local Sheriff’s Office and pay the nominal ($8.50 or so) fee. In about a week on average, my county, you received an email telling you to come down and pick up your paper permit to purchase. This second tier is what has been eliminated.

      • No, it is not a mis-statment. I lived in NC for 42 of my 60 years, most of them before they began issuing carry permits. If you wished to purchase a handgun pre-carry or post-carry didn’t have a carry permit you were required to go to your local Sheriff’s Office and apply for a pistol purchase permit, which was a paper permit that you surrendered to your gun dealer as part of taking possession of the firearm. Go ask some of the old-timers in your 2A organization who lived there before 1995. I guarantee they will tell you the same thing.

      • There were two elements to this;

        When your carry permit had expired and you were waiting for the Sheriff’s Officer to renew you could still carry but you could not purchase. You had to go and apply for a pistol purchase permit, $5.00 each and would take seven days to get approved in order to purchase a handgun (you could apply for as many permits as you wanted but still had to wait 7 days)

        If you attended a church that has a school operating out of it you could not carry a concealed gun, now you can on Sundays during services.

  5. The so called governor who enjoys an armed entourage needs to be stripped of his security and creature comforts and reside defenseless in a cotton field slave shack with surprise visits from the kkk.

    This is a very important choice for NC legislators, it could be the beginning of the end for Gun Control across America.

    • Futhermore…Someone should have told the female Nashville perp who wanted to be a man that real Men do not criminally misuse firearms especially to shoot defenseless children, teachers and a hard working custodian. Good news she learned what real men are about when two real Men smoked the batch.

      • An furthermore…Thankfully and I mean Thankfully the disgusting veto was overridden…Generally that is very difficult.
        For the courtroom drama crowd who are dead silent when it comes to defining Gun Control by its History of Rot…Get with the program…History at great costs defines Gun Control and so should you…for the cost of opening your piehole.

  6. I grew up in NC myself. This permit system really was 100% worthless. All you did was you go to the sheriff and they look at your ID, give you a slip of paper, and then you take it to your FFL who then did your federal NICS check. The sheriff didn’t even record your name or anything.

    • Depends on where you were. Hell, I had a two week waiting period the first time I did it, way back in the day. But one town over they did the same thing you did.

      • Never thought I would find comparison of NC with NY but pistol amendments (adding a pistol/getting permission to buy) takes anywhere from same day (lucky you Fulton county) to weeks (month and a half my current record wait)

  7. Yes that’s correct. There are plenty of white Democrats who do not want black people to have guns. And yes, white people, and everyone else, are just “collateral damage” in that attempt to keep blacks disarmed.

  8. The over ride passed because 3 democrats did not show up for roll call or to vote. Some say they were rogue democrats who supported the repeal but did not want to be on record as voting that way so they voted by not voting. Either way, I can’t believe it. All this went nuclear when during covid some sheriff’s depts (i.e. that county’s sheriff) stopped processing handgun permits and concealed carry permits showing their true colors when it came to the 2A. THey used covid as an excuse. When other depts kept processing the same permits in a timely fashion. Permitless carry is next. Onward and upward.

  9. This is terrible! Now all these lawbreakers will get shot by the good guys. What are we to do?
    Help me please !!!!!!!!

  10. Right on brothers and sisters- A great start on gun control repeal. Keep on truckin with eyes on the prize… LIBERTY!

  11. I work in a NC gun store. This has been the busiest Thursday we’ve ever had. I personally processed at least three 4473s + NICs checks an hour all day for handguns, not counting ARs, ammo and layaways. Tomorrow is expected to be even busier.

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