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Charlotte gun store sees boom in business after pistol permit law change

The new North Carolina law makes it easier for people to buy handguns by simplifying the permitting process.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Handgun sales are rising in Mecklenburg County. Local gun shops have been busy since Republican lawmakers overrode Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 41 on March 28. 

The bill, now law, makes it easier for North Carolinians to buy handguns by simplifying the permit process.

For example, Hyatt Gun Shop in west Charlotte was packed on a Monday night. Workers told WCNC Charlotte it was so crowded over the weekend that customers had to be one in, one out.  

“We’re going to have a couple weeks where it’s really busy, but South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, they all have the same law that we have here," said shop owner Larry Hyatt. "They don’t have lines out the door, it just takes a little while for it to calm down and business will get back to more normal.” 

Hyatt said most customers they’re seeing were waiting weeks for their pistol purchase permit from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff. Now, with the new law, they just have to clear the FBI background check at the store, which Hyatt said can take one to five days. 

“It’s real harder for us because we’re doing more background checks here than what the sheriff’s department used to do 'em. We did 'em for rifles and shotguns, now we do 'em for handguns too,” Hyatt said.  

While the law change is making things busier in gun stores, Mecklenburg County Senator Mujtaba Mohammed has concerns about its effect outside of the store.

“It opens up a giant loophole when it comes to private sale of guns," Mohammed explained. "So, if you are an individual and you want to sell your gun to your neighbor, or someone down the street or a co-worker, well now you're no longer obligated to perform a background check before you make that transfer of that firearm.” 

That’s because the old North Carolina law required someone being privately sold or gifted a pistol to first get a permit from their sheriff. Now, the pistol purchase permit doesn’t exist.  

Senate Bill 41 does nothing to strengthen the public safety of North Carolinians. It actually takes us a giant step backwards,” Mohammed added. 

The state senator also argued federal background checks aren’t as thorough as local sheriff’s. Hyatt disagreed because they now must be run for every handgun purchase, whereas sheriff permits lasted for five years. 

The law also calls for state agencies to launch a campaign to promote safe storage of guns and give out gun locks. 

Plus, it allows concealed carry permit holders to carry handguns on private school campuses during church service. 

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