One of the most discriminatory laws on North Carolina’s books is the pistol purchase permit system, which was first implemented in 1919.
To summarize, before purchasing a handgun in the Tar Heel state, one must first obtain permission from the local sheriff in the form of a pistol purchase permit. Frustratingly, the many who don’t go through this process fail to realize this requirement is entirely redundant and prone to abuse, which is supported by both historical evidence and modern examples.
Many who oppose the repeal of this permit program no doubt fail to recognize that the background check performed by state sheriffs is completely duplicative, a pro-forma exercise. Even after someone acquires a pistol purchase permit, gun dealers can still perform a background check every single time a transaction is initiated.
Even more damning, the current permitting law was contrived during one of the most divisive periods in our state, not to mention, the entire South’s history — that being the Jim Crow era. Yes, the permitting system was originally devised to restrict those whom the government did not want to acquire handguns. We even have historical state newspaper clippings from the early 20th century that confirm the overwhelmingly disproportionate number of whites to blacks who were granted these permits.
Unfortunately, the purchase permit system is still having a “Jim Crow effect” to this day. According to UNC School of Law’s North Carolina Law Review, black citizens in one of North Carolina’s largest counties are still denied purchase permits three times more often than white citizens.
Furthermore, the COVID shutdowns gave anti-gun sheriffs an excuse that made obtaining purchase permits nearly impossible. The delays due to concerns about “stopping the spread” and minimizing large gatherings caused massive backlogs and waits, prompting lawsuits from Gun Owners of America and Grass Roots North Carolina.
Thankfully, due to the efforts of Tar Heel gun owners and lawmakers dedicated to restoring the rights of their citizens, an end to this duplicative and discriminatory policy is on the horizon.
With bipartisan support, both chambers of the General Assembly have passed legislation (SB 41) to not only repeal the pistol purchase permit system, but also close a “loophole” for church carry.
While no law prohibits firearms in houses of worship in North Carolina, many churches also have established private schools on their property. Due to the presence of the school, the entire property is statutorily classified as a “gun-free” zone. SB 41 will close this loophole and restore the right to carry firearms in churches when school is not in session.
Personally, I am a graduate of a private Christian school, a firearms instructor, and a volunteer church security team member. Keeping churches and schools safe is near and dear to my heart. My experience shows that removing this “defense free” prohibition from churches will make would-be mass shooters think twice before attacking, considering they could meet an armed resistance.
Ironically, Gov. Roy Cooper, a man who claims to be committed to ending racial discrimination and the remnants of the state’s racist past, is expected to veto S.B. 41, just as he vetoed similar legislation two years ago. Instead of regurgitating the partisan talking points and arguments unsupported by logic and fact, he should save himself more embarrassment and allow S.B. 41 to become law, with or without his signature.
Regardless of the governor’s final move, lawmakers and activists are confident that the General Assembly is prepared and capable to override a veto on this legislation, and yes, in a bipartisan fashion.
North Carolina doesn’t need a century-old Jim Crow law still on the books. It’s time for it to go.
Jordan Stein is the Southeast Region Director for Gun Owners of America, a certified firearms instructor, and a native son and resident of North Carolina.