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Gun safety advocates say NC gun purchase permit system is the gold standard, while others want to see it repealed

Some lawmakers want to get rid of part of the current process, but opponents of the change say the move could be dangerous.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As part of broader firearms bills, some North Carolina lawmakers want to do away with the current pistol purchasing permit process. 

It would essentially remove the involvement of local sheriff’s departments when it comes to issuing permits for people who want to buy handguns. However, some groups say removing this requirement raises several safety concerns, saying the system saves lives. 

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"Gun violence survivors and gun violence victims all have one thing in common: They want laws to stay in place to prevent future homicides,” Aprie'la Warren, a first-year law student at UNC-Chapel Hill and volunteer at A Better Chance A Better Community, said. 

Gun safety advocates, gun violence survivors, and even some gun owners are speaking out against repealing the pistol purchase permit system. 

Marcus Bass, deputy director for NC Black Alliance, is among those speaking out. 

“Taking the authority out of the hands of local sheriffs makes no sense… especially with the rise of gun violence across North Carolina," Bass said. "Our law enforcement officers are more likely to be able to identify individuals in communities who are real threats and individuals who could be a threat to themselves."

As the law stands, in order to get a handgun people are required to go to their local sheriff’s department for a permit and undergo a comprehensive background check. Gun safety advocates call it the gold standard, adding it provides an extra layer of protection.

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Becky Ceartas is the executive director for North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. Ceartas said the system makes a difference.

“The pistol purchase permitting system is so important because our federal background check system only applies if you are buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer," Ceartas said. "That means if you are a convicted felon, somebody experiencing a mental health crisis, a minor, domestic violence abuser -- you can go to a gun show or online and buy a gun, no questions asked."

However, others say this process is outdated and redundant since federally licensed gun dealers can do the background checks themselves.  

Larry Hyatt is the owner of Hyatt Gun shop and is in favor of repealing this requirement. 

“It’s about time," Hyatt said. "It’s been an antiquated law, the sheriff’s departments don’t want it... the FBI background check is the way to go."

Under the new bill, licensed dealers would have to do their own national criminal background check before selling a handgun.   

State Representative Ben Moss, one of the bill’s sponsors, said this should make the process easier.  

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“My main focus is if I’m a responsible, law-abiding citizen, I should be able to purchase any kind of firearms that I choose to that are legal and available, and I shouldn't have to jump through a lot of hoops since we already have ways of background checks,” Moss said. 

He said he is shocked the century-old law was not been repealed sooner. 

"After all of these years, almost 104 years, this process is still in place, and people used to use this permitting process for very bad reasons,” Moss said. “I think that it should be repealed.” 

Hyatt said they already do background checks for those who want to buy long guns, rifles and shotguns. Although a permit is not required for those weapons, a background check is.  

“The NICS system is more up to date and is more likely to have domestic violence, and mental health problems in that system than the systems the sheriff’s departments are using, by far,” Hyatt said. 

If this bill is repealed, those who want concealed carry would still be required to go to the sheriff’s department for a permit.  

Advocates are asking people to contact their representatives and make their voices heard on the matter.  

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