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New NC Senate bill to repeal century-old pistol purchase permit requirement

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DTH Photo Illustration. A North Carolina pistol permit is pictured. 

Content warning: This article contains mentions of gun violence. 

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Senate Bill 40, titled Pistol Purchase Permit Repeal, was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6 after being filed on Jan. 30. 

The bill would repeal handgun laws that are currently in place, such as a law prohibiting someone without a permit from purchasing a pistol. The law currently requires a local sheriff’s permission and permit before a North Carolinian can legally buy a handgun. 

N.C. Sen. Jim Perry (R-Beufort, Craven, Lenoir), a primary sponsor of the bill and the Republican Senate Majority Whip, said the bill's purpose was to repeal "archaic" purchase permit laws. 

He said he believes current laws around the acquisition and use of pistols are no longer needed. Though these permit laws would be repealed if S.B. 40 passes, there would still be background checks required for people to purchase weapons and obtain a concealed carry permit, he explained.

He added that the laws had "Jim Crow era" roots.

“(The law) was actually facilitated for the denial of handguns to African Americans,” Perry said. 

He explained that when the laws were enacted in 1919, in order to obtain a handgun permit, a sheriff would have to declare a person as of “good moral character.” 

“That's too much arbitrary power for anyone to have," Perry said.

N.C. Sen. Graig Meyer (D-Caswell, Orange, Person) said he believes laws restricting the use and purchasing of handguns are necessary. 

“We don't need easy access to guns and we don't need to take away a protection step that is used to stop people who are in dangerous situations from having access to guns,” Meyer said. 

Although Meyer recognized the laws’ racist roots, he explained that it’s been 100 years since they were passed and the laws are now used in a different context.

“It's really used to limit access to people who are in unstable and dangerous situations," Meyer said. "It's not used as a tool of racial prejudice.” 

He added that he believes this bill will allow handguns to fall into the possession of dangerous people and, consequently, give way to more gun violence in North Carolina.

Becky Ceartas, the executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said a repeal of pistol purchase permit laws would certainly increase gun violence. 

She explained that gun violence is an ongoing health crisis in the United States, citing 2021 as being an especially violent year for gun violence in the 21st century.

According to Gun Violence Archive, the total number of gun violence deaths for all causes in 2021 was 45,103 in the United States — 21,013 of those were due to homicide, murder, unintentional reasons and defensive gun use. 

“People throughout the state would like their elected officials to do more to promote government and not eliminate gun laws that are currently saving lives,” Ceartas said. 

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She said if state lawmakers care about their citizens, then they will not let the bill pass, although Meyer and Perry both said the bill is likely to pass.

As a primary sponsor, Perry said the bill had a 100 percent chance of passing. 

“With the current General Assembly, it's probably fairly likely to pass," Meyer said. "I think Governor Cooper would veto it and it would likely be a very close veto battle and whether (Democrats) can hold the veto on this bill.” 

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com


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