MOUNT AIRY, N.C. — Pistols permits could be eliminated altogether in North Carolina.
This is thanks to a House Bill 562, which would amend multiple firearm laws. However, one portion of it would do away with certain general statutes; those which apply to pistol permits.
“I really don’t think the people that sponsor this legislation have a lot of ill intent, I think the problem is that they don’t really understand the significance of what it is they’re trying to do,” said Surry County Sheriff Graham Atkinson.
Currently, to legally get a pistol in our state, you first need to apply for a permit with your local sheriff’s office. They would do a background check and decide if you’re eligible for a pistol permit. Then, you would go through another background check, this time, at the store selling you the pistol.
State Rep. George G. Cleveland, a primary sponsor of the bill, told FOX8 he believed this process is too redundant.
“The background check would be done at a federal level anyway, if we did not have the local sheriff, so there wouldn’t be any way possible for anything to get through,” said Jason Isaacs, owner of Gun Country in Mount Airy.
But sheriff’s offices in Forsyth, Yadkin, Surry and Wilkes counties all told FOX8 that’s not the case.
“The problem with that is that, the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check) system doesn’t include local assaults, including domestic assaults, which are an automatic disqualifier,” Atkinson said.
The NICS system is that which is used by store owners to do background checks on potential buyers.
Atkinson and several other sheriffs also argued that they know things on the local level that store owners would not be privy to.
“We know things about people that are not in a criminal record somewhere that may lead us to believe that right now is not the right time to be issuing a pistol permit,” said Atkinson. “Those are the kind of things that we may know on the local level, that a dealer would have no reason to know, and certainly a national database would not have in it.”
However, Isaac and some other local gun shop owners say the current process is too excessive; punishing the majority of would-be gun owners for the actions of few.
“We’re sinking the whole ship just because of one or two people,” Isaacs said. “Instead of the three day wait, they could just come in, find the firearm that they would like and we could do a federal level background check right there on the spot.”
Rep. Cleveland told FOX8 that, if the current version of the bill passes, the permits would be phased out over the next three years.