In the wake of the gun control hysteria that swept the nation this year, finally there is some good news. Earlier this month, the state House passed HB 937, which would allow lawful concealed carriers to carry in places previously barred, including greenways, restaurants that serve alcohol, and locked vehicles on college campuses. Today, an amended version of HB 937 is expected to pass in the Senate. Not surprisingly, this amended bill has renewed the ire of North Carolina progressives.
The News and Observer’s headline screams: “NC bill would do away with handgun permits.” It’s a misleading title, since handguns in North Carolina are not registered, and there is no permit required to own a weapon. Instead, North Carolina requires citizens to purchase a permit, in order to then purchase a handgun. North Carolina is one of only 12 states with such a statute. We have the dubious distinction of being one of the most restrictive states in the country in this regard: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Illinois are some of the other states that require a permit to purchase a handgun.
Do pistol purchase permits make us safer? Gun control advocates seem to think so. But as Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, pointed out, pistol purchase permits are actually less effective than ordinary background checks for their intended purpose. A Charlotte Observer article noted: “…North Carolina lets a permit substitute for a background check at the gun shop. Presented with a permit, a dealer has no way of knowing whether the buyer committed a felony after receiving it.” Under the revised bill currently under consideration in the Senate, background checks would be performed before any handgun purchase. This would prevent felons from purchasing handguns, using permits they had obtained years earlier with clean records.
Here’s another interesting tidbit: the requirement to obtain a permit to buy a handgun may actually come from the Jim Crow era, when local sheriffs used gun laws to arbitrarily prevent black citizens from owning weapons. Today, the purchase permit system is a revenue machine for the state: at $5 each, the state is generating millions of dollars from an outdated and ineffective system.
Policy should be informed by facts, not hype and hysteria. With regard to gun rights, it appears that the General Assembly is moving in the right direction.