After lawmakers repealed pistol permit requirements last spring, overriding Gov. Roy Cooper's veto, some domestic violence advocates in the state have raised concerns about perpetrators’ access to firearms.
Senate Bill 41 removed the requirement for people purchasing a pistol to obtain a permit from their county's sheriff's office. Those who purchase a pistol through a federally registered firearms dealer still have to undergo a criminal background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Eddie Caldwell, the executive vice president and general counsel of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association, said the law was repealed because it no longer served its intended purpose.
He said the point of the pistol permit laws was to fill gaps within the NICS and noted that the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association supported the repeal.
Caldwell also said years ago, records regarding mental health and some crimes would not appear in the NICS. He said sheriffs often performed background checks, even if an applicant had a pistol permit.
"Over time, the two systems have become duplicative of each other," he said.
Caldwell said improvements to the system — like the uploading of mental health records — take away the usefulness of pistol permits.
“The need for the pistol purchase permit has really been supplanted by the robust improvements in the NICS program,” he said.
Federally licensed firearms dealers are still required to run a background check through the NICS, but private or unlicensed sellers — like those at gun shows — cannot access the system and run background checks. There are 46 gun shows scheduled in North Carolina through the rest of 2023.