RALEIGH – The N.C. House voted Wednesday to end an unnecessary and duplicative pistol permit process that requires county sheriffs to sign off on handgun purchases. House Bill 398 was introduced by Rep. Jay Adams (R-Catawba) and came at the request of the NC Sheriffs’ Association.
Currently, federal gun dealers are already required to go through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before a person can purchase or receive a handgun. This is also the primary tool used by the sheriffs to approve pistol permits.
“This legislation came at the direct request of the NC Sheriffs’ Association,” said Rep. Adams. “We have made significant improvements in updating the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and it simply no longer makes sense to have our sheriffs tasked with approving and issuing individual pistol purchase permits. It is duplicative, costly and an unnecessary burden on law enforcement and law-abiding gun owners.”
According to the sheriffs and lawmakers, the current permit process, which dates back to 1919 and only applies to handguns, is outdated and longer needed with enhancements and a more robust background check system.
“Improvements to NICS over the last several years have rendered the pistol purchase permit obsolete,” said NC Sheriffs’ Association Executive Vice President and General Counsel Eddie Caldwell. “Thanks to funding from the General Assembly several years ago, decades of mental health records have now been uploaded into NICS.
“With these enhancements, now the NICS check duplicates the records search done by the sheriff for the pistol purchase permit. Because the pistol purchase permit has outlived its usefulness, the NC Sheriffs’ Association supports repeal of the laws requiring a pistol purchase permit. The Association continues to support the concealed handgun permit law.”
The bill, which passed by a vote of 70-47, now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Follow its progress here.