Handgun-purchase permits are here to stay in North Carolina.
Governor Roy Cooper (D.) vetoed a bill on Monday that would have made it easier for North Carolinians to purchase pistols. House Bill 398 sought to repeal the state’s 102-year-old law requiring a person to obtain a permit from their local sheriff before purchasing a handgun.
“Gun permit laws reduce gun homicides and suicides and reduce the availability of guns for criminal activity,” Governor Cooper said in a press release. “At a time of rising gun violence, we cannot afford to repeal a system that works to save lives. The legislature should focus on combating gun violence instead of making it easier for guns to end up in the wrong hands.”
The bill originally passed the general assembly on a near party-line vote over opposition from the Governor’s office. Republicans hold narrow majorities in the House and Senate, making a veto override unlikely.
Opponents of the bill cheered the Governor’s decision.
“Thank you, [Governor Cooper], for vetoing this reckless bill,” North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (NCGV) tweeted Monday. “Stopping the repeal of the Pistol Purchase Program will keep North Carolinians safe.”
Supporters criticized the Governor’s decision and accused him of obstructing a much-needed reform.
“To deny North Carolinians a path to obtain that measure of personal protection is to deny a fundamental constitutional right,” House Speaker Tim Moore said in a press release. “Governor Cooper is playing politics with our Second Amendment rights.”
The bill was introduced in response to reports of delayed permit processing by certain sheriff’s offices throughout the pandemic. The delays led to a successful lawsuit against Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker (D.) and an ongoing suit against Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden (D.).
“At the height of the pandemic, many North Carolinians felt they needed to purchase a handgun for personal protection, but they were faced with a problem: sheriff’s departments were overloaded with requests for pistol purchase permits,” Moore said. “This bill would have provided an avenue for those individuals.”