Wake County sheriff must resume processing pistol purchase permits, judge rules

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Wake County sheriff must resume accepting and processing pistol purchase permits within seven days, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker temporarily suspended accepting new pistol purchasing permits on March 24 – two weeks after Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina and 11 days after President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency.

From March 10 to March 24, the sheriff’s office received applications in “unprecedented numbers” and caused more than 50 people to gather in the Wake County Public Safety Center, documents said.

That gathering of 50 or more was in violation of March 22 Proclamation of Emergency Restrictions put in place by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Baker said his office had 755 pending permits when he made the decision to put things on hold.

A couple of days after Baker suspended accepting permits, Travis Groo filed a lawsuit against Baker and the sheriff’s office.

On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge A. Graham Shirley ordered the sheriff’s office to resume accepting permits within seven days.

Baker must also modify the application process “so as to minimize or alleviate the admission of applicants for said permits to the Public Safety Center” throughout the declared states of emergency, documents said.

“I’m very pleased with Judge Shirley’s ruling,” Baker said in a news release. “I believe the court’s review of the entire situation reveals that my primary purpose has always been, and will continue to be, to protect the safety and welfare of my staff, Wake County citizens and the jail residents housed in the Wake County Public Safety Center.”

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