Wake County Sheriff Reverses Course After Being Sued, Reopens Pistol Purchase Permitting After Illegal Suspension

RALEIGH – At least one of the many impulsive, progressively restrictive and rights-violating public policy decisions spawned by the pandemic panic is going to be reversed when Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker starts reissuing pistol purchase permits. Sheriff Baker announced last week that he was suspending all applications for pistol purchase permits, concealed carry permits, and renewals for at least 30 days because ‘too many people were applying.’

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The de facto partial suspension of Second Amendment did not sit well with gun rights advocates, state lawmakers, and citizens that understand what ‘shall not be infringed’ is supposed to mean. Immediately, state lawmakers pointed out that the sheriff’s actions were illegal — he is required by state law to award or deny a permit within 14 days of application.

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With this fact in plain sight, but the sheriff taking the action anyway, a few Second Amendment groups took the sheriff to court. Grass Roots North Carolina, the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Firearms Policy Coalition filed suit to force Sheriff Baker to begin issuing the permits again.

Meanwhile, the N.C. Sheriffs Association was skeptical of Sheriff Baker’s move, announcing that they could find no legal basis for such a decision.

The great majority of county sheriffs and local law enforcement in North Carolina have the ultimate respect for and loyalty to the Second Amendment. Before the era of coronavirus (aka just a few weeks ago), we saw more than half of the counties in our state reaffirm their commitment to the Second Amendment with stern resolutions that promised to not allow its violation within their jurisdiction. Wake County, with an all Democrat commission and a Sanctuary Sheriff, was not one of those counties.

So, it took a browbeating from the sheriffs association, state lawmakers, and citizens that understand what ‘shall not be infringed’ means, to convince Sheriff Baker to reverse course. He’s still dragging his feet though, promising to reopen the permitting after his perceived 14 day legal window expires next week.

The issue raises an important question, especially during times of unprecedented command and control edicts enforced by state and local governments: How much discretion should sheriffs have over your Second Amendment right?

This law gave sheriffs discretion over who gets a pistol purchase permit during the era of Jim Crow, and likely carried all the racist implications you might imagine during that time. Being that we just saw it used half a century later to deny the rights of everyone during a time of a slow-boiling emergency, state lawmakers need to make the repeal of this law a first order of business when they return for the 2020 legislative session.

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