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Proposed NC House Bill will do away with archaic pistol permit system

Proposed NC House Bill will do away with archaic pistol permit system

HANDGUN PERMITS

In House Bill 398, North Carolina lawmakers propose to repeal our 1919 pistol purchase permit law, a vestige of the Jim Crow era which once facilitated denial of handguns to blacks under its vague “good moral character” requirement.

Only Maryland, Michigan and Nebraska still have similar laws.

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, reversing its position, now supports repealing the archaic law. Its representative recently testified to legislators that implementation of requirements for courts to report mental health data to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) within 48 hours, plus digitizing of older microfiche records, have rendered the system “duplicative.”

Repealing the law would mean computerized background checks are done via NICS at point of sale, not up to five years earlier as they are now.

Because purchase permits are valid for five years and untraceable once issued, they can be used by criminals to bypass NICS if people get permits before committing disqualifying crimes but use them afterward.

As gun buying surges nationwide, repeal would also remove an obstacle blocking handgun purchases in some counties for up to five months.

Critics complain that private transfers, which technically require purchase permits, would be exempt. But the fact that these slips of paper are untraceable and that many people are unaware of the requirement suggests that compliance is negligible.

A paper in UNC’s North Carolina Law Review finds that states without purchase permit laws actually have a 7% lower handgun homicide rate than states with the laws.

Missouri homicides, which spiked to 32% above the national average before it repealed its permit law, dropped to 17% above average after repeal.

Legislators should bring background checks into the 21st century and heed both law enforcement professionals supporting the bill and citizens being denied their rights by repealing the archaic law.

Paul Valone

President, Grass Roots North Carolina