For the first time in more than a century North Carolinians planning on purchasing a handgun no longer have to ask permission and obtain a permit from county officials beforehand, and I’m thrilled that Grassroots NC president Paul Valone could join me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to celebrate the occasion as well as discussing the next steps for Second Amendment advocates in the state.
Those activists have been working to undo the pistol purchase permit law established in 1919 for several years now, and Valone says last year’s elections were key to this year’s success. There’s now a pro-2A supermajority in the state Senate, and while Republicans are officially one vote shy of a similar supermajority in the House, they had the numbers to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of SB 41 despite the fact that the three Democrats who originally voted in favor of the legislation did not sign on to the override. Conveniently, three Democrats were missing from the House chamber on Wednesday, allowing Republicans to meet the 6/10ths threshold for an override without the need for their colleagues to keep their promise to voters.
The repeal of the pistol purchase permit statute went into effect immediately, much to the chagrin of the sheriff of North Carolina’s most populous county.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden on Wednesday said his office would stop processing any pistol purchase permit applications that were already in process, due to the new state law. He said his office “does not have the statutory authority” to refund the $5 fee applicants paid.
… Gun rights advocates celebrated the passage of the law, while gun control activists and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office condemned it.
“I fully support the second amendment, but I believe removing local sheriffs’ offices from the approval process puts our communities in danger for the sake of convenience,” McFadden said Wednesday afternoon in a statement.
Oh please. Valone rolled his eyes when he shared McFadden’s petty decision to keep the five dollar fee from applicants, even though they no longer need his permission to purchase a handgun, and I completely understand why. Despite the sheriff’s assertion that he fully supports the Second Amendment, this is the same guy who’s holding up the issuance of concealed carry licenses by requesting non-existent medical records from the VA , even when the applicant never served in the military. The delays have gotten so bad that Grassroots NC has sued along with several applicants, and even the local news media has been forced to sit up and take notice about the abuses, with WSOC-TV reporting on one applicant’s months-long delays back in February.
For months, Channel 9’s Hunter Sáenz has covered the challenges people face with getting gun permits approved in Mecklenburg County. Knowing he was going to talk with him, Sáenz asked for the sheriff’s office to weigh in on Bryan Yerke’s renewal — he asked them what was taking so long for it to go through.
By Tuesday afternoon, Yerke’s permit was finally approved. But the process to get there is what hundreds of others are still going through.
Yerke is a certified concealed handgun instructor. But since September of last year, by no fault of his own, his concealed handgun permit has been expired.
“Oh it’s definitely an unpleasant experience,” he said.
It meant he can’t carry his gun around, and later this month he could lose his gun permits in other states as well.
He said he did everything right last summer — he filled out the application and even paid the fee. But as of Tuesday morning, his application was still pending.
“I want the sheriff to obey the law,” Yerke said.
Then, after Sáenz started asking questions, Yerke’s permit was approved Tuesday afternoon. But there are many others who are still waiting.
According to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, as of Monday, there were more than 3,000 unfulfilled concealed handgun permits.
In November, Sheriff Garry McFadden said he sends every applicant to the Veteran’s Administration as part of his mental health checks. Once an application is complete and all mental health checks are met, state law requires sheriffs to take less than 45 days to approve or deny a permit.
“We can’t make these institutions work any faster, we can’t demand them to work any faster. So that’s the clog,” McFadden said.
Data shows the sheriff’s office is still waiting to get mental health checks back from applicants who applied in March of last year. Yerke, who was caught up in that wait, said that’s not right. He doesn’t understand why his application needs to go to the VA because he’s not even a veteran.
“The Veteran’s Affairs office would have no information whatsoever on me,” Yerke said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me, unless you factor in that we may have a sheriff that just does not want to issue gun permits, period.”
It may take a lawsuit for McFadden to start processing carry applications in a timely manner, but at least he can no longer jerk residents around when they’re trying to purchase a pistol for self-protection. SB 41 really is a game changer for gun owners unfortunate enough to live in those pockets of the state where anti-gunners hold power, and Valone says Second Amendment advocates are now looking to make significant changes to the concealed carry statutes by enacting constitutional carry as well. The Grassroots NC president says that a constitutional carry bill has already been introduced in the House, and Second Amendment advocates will be lobbying representatives to pass the bill before the legislature’s crossover deadline in mid-May.
Clearly there’s more work to be done before the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians are secure, but there’s still plenty to celebrate today. Be sure to check out the entire conversation with Grassroots NC’s Paul Valone in the video window below, and congratulations to the state’s Second Amendment activists for all successful efforts in removing this relic of the Jim Crow era from the state’s statutes.