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North Carolina on brink of eliminating pistol purchase permits By The Center Square Staff

State’s pistol purchase permit requirement has been in existence for 110 years.

The North Carolina General Assembly appears poised to repeal the state’s 110-year-old pistol purchase permit, but how exactly it’s accomplished remains unclear.

House Republicans approved House Bill 50 in a party-line vote on Wednesday to repeal the state’s pistol purchase permit. The measure now heads to the Senate, which approved the same in a broader bill package last week.

Senate Bill 41 was also approved in a party-line vote to repeal the permit that requires approval from the respective 100 county sheriffs. SB 41 includes measures to allow concealed carry of firearms at religious services that share locations with private or charter schools, and to launch a two-year firearm safe storage awareness initiative, as well.

Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, sponsor of the Senate bill, contends the vast majority of pistol sales in North Carolina take place through federally licensed dealers, who would still be required to conduct checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI.

Supporters of the change have cited complaints about the slow pace of permit approvals and touted support for repeal from the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.

Democrats have argued the bill would create a “giant loophole” that would allow dangerous individuals to obtain handguns through private sellers who are not required to conduct background checks.

Aspects of SB 41 regarding the safe storage awareness initiative and concealed carry at religious services have already cleared the House in standalone bills with support from Democrats. Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed similar legislation to repeal the pistol purchase permit in 2021, alleging “gun permit laws reduce gun homicides and suicides and reduce the availability of guns for criminal activity.”

Senate Republicans now hold a supermajority necessary to override a gubernatorial veto, while Republicans in the House came one vote shy of that threshold in the November election.

HB 50’s single Democratic co-sponsor, Rep. Michael Wray of Northampton County, told the media he decided to vote against the bill on Wednesday after consulting with sheriffs in his district.

SB 41 is currently in the Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations of the House, while HB 50 has not yet been referred to a Senate committee.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, recently told reporters that while he believes discussions should continue with Democrats to court support for repeal, the lower chamber could simply adopt SB 41.

Advocates for repeal have highlighted how pistol purchase permits were initially implemented by Jim Crow Democrats to prevent black residents from gaining legal access to guns, dubbing the permit law “the Klan’s favorite law.”

North Carolina is the only southern state that still requires a pistol purchase permit.

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