North Carolina Senate Passes Bill That Would Repeal Pistol Permit Law
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

By Zachary Stieber

State House also passed legislation, but governor may veto.

The North Carolina Senate this week approved legislation that would repeal a background check currently required before people get a permit to buy a pistol.

The state chamber passed House Bill 398 in a party-line 27–20 vote on Wednesday and delivered the bill to Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday.

All yes votes came from Republicans, who control the chamber, and all votes against were from Democrats.

Cooper is also a Democrat and can veto the bill. His office did not respond to a query.

The bill, if signed into law, would eliminate a requirement that sheriffs must conduct a background check on people who want to buy pistols before a purchase happens.

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association backed the repeal because federal background checks are already required for many gun purchases.

“This law is simply just ineffective,” state Sen. Chuck Edwards, a Republican, said during floor debate, according to the Associated Press. “This law is archaic and it’s duplicative.”

But Democrats noted that the federal checks don’t happen when private sales between two individuals take place.

“This bill would remove one of the few protections that we currently have in place to stop dangerous people from buying handguns,” said state Sen. Natasha Marcus, a Democrat.

Josh Stein, North Carolina’s attorney general, said he opposed the bill.

“When sheriffs grant or deny permits to people to purchase a pistol, they do so after considering the risk that person might pose to their community. This background check process is one of our most effective tools to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, felons, and other dangerous people. However, this bill would remove sheriffs’ role in granting permits, taking away their ability to protect the people in their communities and making it easier for people who are dangerous to buy pistols,” he said in a statement.

The North Carolina House passed the bill 69–48 in May.

A Cooper veto would likely not be overridden, since some Democrats would have to side with Republicans.

Cooper vetoed legislation in June that would have let people carry guns in churches on educational property outside of school operating hours.

“For the safety of students and teachers, North Carolina should keep guns off school grounds,” Cooper said at the time.

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