Second Amendment activists are more confident than ever that this will finally be the year that North Carolina’s “pistol purchase permit” law disappears after a repeal bill passed both chambers by a veto-proof margin, with a few Democrat lawmakers signing on to the pro-2A move. The bipartisan nature of the passage of SB 41 is hugely important, because as we’ve noted throughout our coverage of the efforts to repeal North Carolina’s “pistol purchase permit” over the past several years, Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed similar legislation in the past and is likely to do again this year.
Over the weekend, Grassroots NC executive director Paul Valone sent out an email to members and 2A supporters explaining that while Cooper’s veto is still on the table, it looks like the coalition that came together to advance repeal is going to stick around for a potential veto override.
But we are in the unusual position of also owing thanks to Democrats Marvin Lucas (Cumberland), Shelly Willingham (Bertie, Edgecombe, Martin), and Michael Wray (Halifax, Northampton, Warren), who voted for final passage of SB 41.
I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, but we’ve had Democrats vote for these measures in previous sessions of the legislature, only to have them reverse position when it came to the over-ride vote.”
Nothing is certain, of course. But this time, I believe there is a strong chance the supermajority needed to over-ride Cooper’s veto will hold. Wray was actually a co-sponsor for HB 50, a different bill to repeal the PPP law which passed the NC House (and which, admittedly, he voted against).
Better yet, according to the online political publication The Assembly, “Willingham … told The Assembly that he would vote to override Cooper’s veto on any bill that he’s already supported. ‘If it comes back, I’ll still support it,’ Willingham said. ‘That’s just the way I operate.’” Even if one or two of the other Democrats reverse their votes, Willingham makes the needed 72 votes.
Willingham made that comment in response to a separate bill approved by lawmakers that’s facing a veto from Cooper, but as Valone pointed out, the Democrat announced his intent to stand by each and every one of his votes. If he’s true to his word, the votes will be there to undo the gun control relic of the Jim Crow era, and the state’s pistol permitting scheme will soon come to an end.
But there’s also a chance that Cooper will choose to avoid a bruising (and losing) fight over keeping the law in place by simply allowing SB 41 to become law without his signature. That’s the course that Valone is encouraging Cooper to follow, even while Grassroots NC is continuing to talk with SB 41s supporters in the legislature to ensure that lawmakers don’t have a change of heart during any override vote. Valone says SB 41 was transmitted to Cooper on March 16th, and under North Carolina law the governor has ten days (excluding Sundays) to veto the legislation or it will take effect without his signature. By my math, that gives Cooper until next Tuesday to decide his next steps, and North Carolina Second Amendment advocates should continue contacting their own lawmakers between now and then to remind them of the importance of enacting SB 41 into law.