N.C. Sheriffs Buried Report Showing Dangerous Flaws In Jim Crow-Era Pistol Permit System

The leading opponent to North Carolina House Bill 562 has been the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA), which has steadfastly claimed that the existing discretionary handgun permitting system targeted for repeal as part of HB 562 is superior to the FBI NICS permitting system used by most of the rest of the nation for both handgun and long gun purchases.

Grass Roots North Carolina has discovered that the hasn’t been truthful, however, and that the organization buried a required 2014 report showing just how dangerously flawed that the system is for the citizens of North Carolina, providing permits to felons at a rate four times higher than NICS:

  • [NICS] reports included 165 or 23.5% of permits being subject to revocation in Camden County and 35,488 or 38% of permits being subject to revocation in Mecklenburg County.”
  • “…sheriffs’ offices [submitted] 674,806 permits for review representing 344,338 different permit holders. CJLEADS returned 26,637 permits to sheriffs as subject to revocation due to an event or condition that occurred subsequent to the issuance of the permit that would have disqualified the individual from receiving a pistol purchase permit at application.” [That rate is about 4%, or four times higher than NICS, suggesting that the PPP system is *inferior* to NICS at preventing criminals from getting guns.]
  • “Sheriffs have reported revoking 5,255 permits from 2,447 permittees as a result of the background check and review process through April 25, 2014. However, it should be noted that a sheriff has no way of knowing if a permit has been used since issuance.” [Translation: Perhaps only ¼ of 26,637 invalid permits were “revoked,” leaving potentially 22,000+ criminals in possession of permits and able to bypass background checks.]
  • “Sheriffs’ offices are staffed to review and process Pistol Purchase Permit applications and not to conduct periodic reviews of active permits…”

Put bluntly, the NCSA is abundantly aware that the Jim Crow-era permitting scheme—originally and structurally designed to deny handguns to minorities and keep Ku Klux Klansmen safe during their night rides—is a colossal failure.

The NCSA is aware of the fact that the current pistol purchase permitting scheme is inferior to NICS.

The NCSA is aware that their claim that they “know” applicants better than the NICS is a self-serving, homespun falsehood.

Sadly, the NCSA’s real reason for wanting to retain the archaic, unevenly applied, and dangerously flawed pistol permitting scheme seems to be nothing more than a parochial interest in preserving their own power to arbitrarily deny pistol permits to citizens that may have fallen out of favor with local powers that be, and to collect permitting fees.

Opposition from the NC Sheriffs’ Association forced NC Republicans to pull HB 562 back to committee last week, much to the delight of Michael Bloomberg and Moms Demand Action/Everytown, who have joined the sheriffs in opposing much needed firearms reforms.

HB 562 was just re-added to the legislative calendar again.

I hope that in light of GRNC exposing this buried report that NCSA will cease their clearly unwarranted and self-serving opposition to this much-needed reform bill, and that North Carolina Republicans—who control both houses and the governor’s mansion—will move quickly to pass this bill into law.