NC Senate set for override vote on pistol purchase permit repeal

David Duprey

North Carolina lawmakers are acting quickly after Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed legislation repealing the state’s pistol purchase permit and expanding the state’s concealed carry statutes. The state Senate is set to hold a veto override vote on SB 41 later today, and it looks like the votes are there for the upper chamber to send the bill back to the House for a final vote.


Sen. Jim Perry, who’s the primary sponsor of SB 41 says the legislation would make several improvements to the status quo.

“The first topic deals with safety in churches,” Perry said. “Because of some conflicting language, when a church happens to have a school attached to it, even though that school isn’t in session on Sundays, some felt like it was a loophole and they were concerned about allowing concealed carry on those properties.”

The second part would eliminate having to get a pistol purchase permit from your local sheriff’s office before buying a gun.

“North Carolina is one of only three states that require an additional permit step through the local sheriff’s office,” he said. “Forty-seven states in the U.S. do not require that additional step. After conferring with the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, they supported a repeal, so we chose to move to repeal that unnecessary step.”

The third includes education on safe storage for firearms.

“It is required by state law to safely store your guns and a lot of people don’t know that, so this was about getting behind an attempt to notify more people in our state,” Perry added.

Gun control activists maintain that repealing the pistol purchase permit would result in criminals being able to obtain a gun without a background check; something that already happens on a daily basis even in the handful of states that have similar laws in place, including North Carolina. In fact, Grassroots NC is highlighting a 2014 report from the North Carolina Sheriffs Association that documented one of the flaws with the pistol purchase permit law; use of the permit allows those who’ve been convicted of felony offenses to purchase a firearm for up to five years afterwards… or at least as long as their pistol purchase permit is valid. As the Second Amendment group explained in an email alert to members:


Because the permits are valid for 5 years and can be used to bypass the usual NICS background check when buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer, it is possible for someone to legally get a permit, then commit a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, potentially even serving jail time before using the un-trackable paper permit to avoid a gun purchase background check.

Said the NCSA report:

“The 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. Several sheriffs’ offices had over 40% of their permits reported subject to revocation in the NICS report.” [Emphasis added]


“The DOJ/ITD and SBI/DCI staff have batch processed 95 sheriffs’ offices files to NICS and NICS returned 195,937 permits 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.” [Emphasis added]

The problem with NICS estimates is that one criminal may hold multiple permits. (Because each paper permit is valid for only one purchase and is turned in at the point of sale, many applicants apply for multiple permits.) NCSA also ran extant permits through a different system, the “Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services” (CJLEADS), which found 2,969 permit-holders in Mecklenburg County subject to revocation.


Grassroots NC executive director Paul Valone also threw cold water on the claim by anti-gun activists that repealing the PPP will allow for criminals to buy guns in private transfers, which currently require the buyer to show a valid pistol purchase permit. Valone pointed to statistics from the NC Administrative Office of the Courts that show only a handful of people have been convicted of that offense over the past five years.

Few people have been charged with transferring a firearm without a permit, but the number of convictions is even lower. Last year there were fifteen individuals charged with that particular offense, but only one conviction. That alone is a glaring red flag about the efficacy of the pistol purchase permit system, and it’s obvious that this isn’t the “valuable law enforcement tool” anti-gunners claim it is.

The GOP majority in the state Senate is large enough to override Cooper’s veto without any help from Democrats, but the House is one vote shy of a Republican supermajority. As we’ve previously reported, however, SB 41 did attract the votes of three Democrats in the House. Rep. Shelly Willingham was one of the three, and he’s has gone on the record stating that he won’t change his votes for any legislation he initially supported. If he stays true to his word, SB 41 will become law despite Cooper’s veto. Today’s expected vote in the state Senate isn’t exactly a mere formality, but I feel pretty good about a successful override in that chamber. The real drama, I suspect, is going to come when the House takes up SB 41 once again; something that will hopefully happen later this week.


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