NC: Gun control wins, House folds on ending permit to purchase

Lawmakers passed a gun reform bill that would have eliminated the long-standing practice of obtaining a permit before buying a handgun – only after the provision was removed.

The permit to purchase requirement, which mandates that would-be handgun owners first obtain a license from their local sheriff, was supported by gun control groups who have been pouring money into the state in an effort to keep the Jim Crow-era system intact.

The largely neutered measure, which still contains some pro-gun reforms but saw the permit scheme safeguarded, passed in a 78-37 vote Tuesday.

This brought quick victory statements from gun control groups to include former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s Americans for Responsible Solutions, who last week unveiled a six-figure ad buy in the state, and Moms Demand Action.

“I am proud that our Representatives appear poised to stop a provision that would allow dangerous criminals including domestic abusers and felons to avoid background checks by shopping with unlicensed private sellers online or at gun shows,” said Sarah Green, with the North Carolina Chapter of Moms Demand Action, in a statement emailed to Guns.com. “We applaud the House for taking steps to protect North Carolina families.”

The measure, HB 562, was originally introduced in April but has caught flak from the governor’s office, law enforcement lobby groups, and Democrats over the past two months.

As introduced, it repealed the permit-to-purchase scheme, expanded concealed carry to legislators at the Capitol, prohibited health care workers from asking questions about gun ownership, introduced a 15-day window for Chief Law Enforcement Officers to either approve or deny applications by individuals to obtain National Firearms Act items, and other minor reforms.

However, the language referencing the permits, the concealed carry expansion, and medical privacy was carved away by amendmens Tuesday, leaving the bill a shell of its former self.

This had gun rights advocates in the state shaking their heads.

“RINOs and Democrats have colluded to gut the ability of lawful North Carolinians to protect themselves,” Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, told Guns.com.

Valone’s group had earlier this week released a 2014 study by the North Carolina Sheriffs Association in which the lobby group maintained the pistol permit scheme was wrought with flaws as it relies on the use of only the agency’s records and not the larger National Instant Criminal Background Check System system to clear potential gun buyers.

This, in turn, meant the sheriffs often issued permits to individuals that would be classified as prohibited possessors under federal law, which would have to be revoked.

“[NICS] reports included 165 or 23 percent of permits being subject to revocation in Camden County and 35,488 or 38 percent of permits being subject to revocation in Mecklenburg County,” reads the report.

However, the sheriffs maintain keeping the current system intact is safer.

A similar bill in 2013 was also controversial and saw entrenched opposition from gun control groups and the law enforcement lobby.

HB 562 now proceeds to a final House vote and from there onto the state Senate.