State Rep. Justin Burr introduced House Bill 817 in April, which would repeal the requirement that residents of North Carolina must have a pistol permit signed by their chief local law enforcement officer—the sheriff—prior to purchasing a handgun. State Sen. Jeff Tarte introduced Senate Bill 503, a similar measure, on the other side of the legislature.
Both are supported by NRA-ILA, which explains on its website, “NICS is used in North Carolina for purchases of rifles and shotguns from licensed dealers; however, the current antiquated, inefficient law requires law-abiding North Carolina citizens to ask permission from their local sheriff before being allowed to purchase a handgun. Even if an individual is not prohibited from purchasing a handgun under federal or state law, a sheriff can still deny the request based on the sheriff’s personal belief that the individual is not of ‘good moral character.’”
Aside from the potential for abuse, the paperwork and duplicative background checks can be labor-intensive and time consuming. Last year, applicants had to wait up to four months for a response in Mecklenburg County—despite a legal mandate that they be returned within 14 days.
This isn’t the first time North Carolina legislators have targeted the antiquated law, either. House Bill 562, introduced to the state assembly in 2015, would have addressed the state’s pistol permit process, but an amendment would have required applicants to also sign an agreement to allow officials full access to their mental health records. NRA-ILA alerted members in the state and urged them to ask their representatives to strike the language, but the bill ultimately died.
State residents with a concealed-carry permit are not required to secure a pistol permit prior to taking ownership of a handgun. The permit, however, also requires approval of that same county sheriff, in addition to successful completion of the state-approved course and background checks.