ROCKINGHAM — Residents wanting to pack a pistol are no longer required to get permission from the local sheriff.
A 71-46 vote from the N.C. House of Representatives Wednesday morning solidified the override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the bill. The N.C. Senate override vote passed 30-19 on Tuesday.
“This legislation preserves the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians by repealing the outdated pistol permit system,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a statement. “It also allows all churches and other place(s) of religious worship to protect their parishioners and launches a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative.
“These have been long-standing goals of Second Amendment advocates in our state, and we have finally brought this legislation over the finish line.”
Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond, agreed, saying the old law was no longer needed and put the decision making in the hands of the establishments.
“If they feel like they want to allow (someone with a gun), they can,” Moss told the RO.
The House and Senate votes were strictly along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats opposing, except for four among the two chambers who had an excused absence, legislative records show.
Sens. Danny Earl Britt, Jr., R-Robeson, Warren Daniel, R-Burke, Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, and Bobby Hanig, R-Currituck, issued the following joint statement regarding the override:
“After years of Gov. Roy Cooper obstructing our Constitutional rights, today marks a long overdue victory for law-abiding gun owners in our state. By successfully overriding Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto, we have guaranteed and secured Second Amendment rights for North Carolinians, and set forth a path to overcoming any future impediments from the lame-duck governor.”
Cooper vetoed the bill last week saying: “Eliminating strong background checks will allow more domestic abusers and other dangerous people to own handguns and reduces law enforcement’s ability to stop them from committing violent crimes. Second Amendment supporting, responsible gun owners know this will put families and communities at risk.”
Proponents of the bill heralded the repeal of the Jim Crow-era permits as a victory for the rights of gun owners.
“Second amendment supporters made history today,” Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, said in a statement, thanking the legislators who voted for it and those who helped lobby for it. “In passing Senate Bill 41, we achieved the first override of anti-freedom Governor Roy Cooper’s many vetoes since 2018, and the first-ever override for a gun bill in North Carolina. Grass Roots North Carolina promised to deliver defeat to Cooper’s door, and we delivered on that promise.”
Valone continued, saying he encourages legislative leaders “to leverage this success by joining twenty-five other states in passing constitutional carry.”
Opponents, however, decry the override saying the decision “puts every North Carolinian’s safety in greater peril.”
“2021 was the most violent year this century in North Carolina,” said Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. “Our legislature should be working to keep us safe from gun violence, not making it easier for prohibited people to get guns and put us more at risk. NCGV will continue to advocate for gun violence prevention measures to protect our citizens while it’s clear that our legislature won’t.
“Lawmakers that voted to repeal our Pistol Purchase Permitting system will have blood on their hands,” Ceartas continued. “We will wake up 5 or 10 years from now and see that our gun homicide and gun suicide rates have risen. And we will directly point to these votes to repeal the Pistol Purchase Permitting system. They did not listen to facts, reason, or the vast majority of North Carolinians. Shame on them.”
Shortly after the veto override, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release stating that, effective immediately, permit applications were not being processed.
However, the release added that the new law did not authorize the sheriff to refund the $5 permit fee.
According to RCSO, there were 61 pending permit applications when the law went into effect.
Records from the sheriff’s office show there were 4,691 permit applications filed from Jan. 1, 2020 until Feb. 29, 2023. Of those, only 239 were denied.
“Any person seeking to purchase a handgun through a firearms dealer will undergo the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) criminal background check required under current law and either be sold the handgun or denied sale if a criminal history search indicates the person is disqualified from possessing a firearm,” the sheriff’s office said in the release. “This check will be conducted at the Federal Firearms Dealership.”
As for the private transfer of guns, the sheriff’s office added that criminal penalties still apply to anyone who knowingly transfers a firearm to someone legally prevented from owning one.