The clock is ticking on SB 41 in North Carolina. The legislation, which would repeal the state’s 104-year-old law requiring residents to obtain a pistol purchase permit from local authorities before they can lawfully acquire a handgun as well as fixing a glitch in the state’s concealed carry laws, has been approved by both chambers of the state legislature and was transmitted to Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper last week.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, Grassroots NC executive director Paul Valone says he’s more optimistic than ever before that the state’s “pistol purchase permit” requirement will soon be wiped off the books, thanks in large part to the large turnout by gun owners and Second Amendment supporters in last November’s elections. While a red wave failed to materialize in many states that wasn’t the case in North Carolina, where Republicans won a majority of seats on the state Supreme Court, captured a veto-proof majority in the state Senate, and came one seat shy of doing the same in the House.
In addition to the growing Republican majority, however, Valone and supporters of SB 41 also managed to win the backing of three House Democrats; more than enough to override any potential veto by Cooper… at least as long as one of the three remains committed to their earlier vote to repeal the Jim Crow-era gun control law. While Valone says nothing is guaranteed until the bill actually becomes law, he’s pleased that Rep. Shelly Willingham has gone on the record stating that he’ll vote to override any veto of legislation that he’s supported this session. Since Willingham was one of the three Democrats voting in favor of SB 41, that should give Second Amendment supporters the necessary votes to repeal the gun control law.
Much of the debate over the pistol purchase permit requirement focused on the original intent behind the legislation, with gun control activists and others who want to keep the measure in place denying that the law had anything to do with Jim Crow or was racially motivated in any way, though Valone has found plenty of evidence showing that jurisdictions were routinely denying black applicants in large numbers.
Paul Valone, president of the Grass Roots North Carolina gun rights group, in an interview this week likened the law to the literacy test the state required of those seeking to vote. That law was routinely used to prevent Black people from voting. It’s still on the books, though invalidated by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“That’s the point of a Jim Crow law,” he said. “Constructed in such a way that it appears to be race neutral yet allowing the issuing authority or the controlling authority to deny things to minorities.”
Valone cited as evidence a 1930 article in the Durham Sun newspaper reporting few Black people were among the 450 people to win permits from the court clerk.
“Few permits were issued to Negroes, the records show, the issuance being restricted almost entirely to white persons,” the article said.
But a 1920 article from the Rockingham Post-Dispatch in Richmond County reported 11 of the 32 people approved for permits were Black.
Willinger said he would be surprised if there were no instances of discriminatory enforcement during that period, but that’s not the same as saying the law itself was racially motivated.
“It’s certainly possible, I don’t think we know enough to rule that out,” he said. “But at least from what we have from historical references it seems it’s as much as likely raised out of public safety issues.”
Does it really? Because it seems to me that the evidence shows black residents were routinely being denied purchase permits far more frequently than their white counterparts. Take Richmond County, for instance, which the Charlotte News & Observer cited as evidence for the law’s supposedly race-neutral premise because 11 of the 32 people approved for pistol permits in 1920 were black. The paper neglected to mention several salient points, however, including the fact that black residents made up a plurality if not an outright majority of Richmond County residents at the time, and that just twenty years earlier the county had been the site of a “grand rally” of white residents intent on proving their dominion over their black neighbors. The Morning Star newspaper described the race-based protest in a story headlined “Richmond County White Men Show Determination to Rid Themselves of Negro Rule”.
The white men of Richmond county showed their determination to rid themselves of negro rule by their grand rally today. A thousand men wearing red shirts gathered here from points as distant and Maxton and Gibson and paraded for ten miles through the negro precincts of the county. It was an object lesson which will have its good effect upon the negro, for it showed that the white men do not propose to longer endure the domination of the black race in this section.
In the afternoon, Claude Kitchin, of Halifax, delivered a masterly speech. He said that all the soldiers in the United States would not keep the white people from enjoying their rights. He appealed to the people of Richmond county to follow in the wake of Halifax, where if a negro constable came to a white man with a warrant in his hand he left with a bullet in his brain. His review of the scandal and extravagance of the Fusion administration was very forcible, and, in fact, his whole two hours’ talk elicited vehement applause. Mr. Maxcy L. John presided at the meeting. Many negroes have taken their names from the registration list. From November 8th the white men will rule Richmond county.
Are we really supposed to believe that 20 years later the politics in Richmond County had changed so much that black residents were going to get a fair shake when it came to exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms, especially as state lawmakers were busy imposing additional Jim Crow measures at the same time?
Anti-gun activists may be willing to rewrite history in an attempt to keep their gun control laws in place, but thankfully in North Carolina they no longer have the numbers needed to pass any new infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. In fact, it looks like they don’t even have the votes to keep an existing anti-gun statute in place, though Valone says he’s encouraging gun owners to keep up the pressure on Gov. Cooper and legislators as well. The repeal of the state’s pistol purchase permit law isn’t quite guaranteed yet, but gun owners are closer than ever to finally getting rid of this unnecessary and abusive intrusion on their fundamental civil rights.