House Bill 562, which is now referred to as An Act to Amend Various Firearm Laws, was removed from last night's House calendar and sent back to the House Rules Committee. The House Republican caucus remains divided on H 562 and unable to reach a consensus on repealing the outdated, inefficient Pistol Purchase Permit system (PPP) to replace it with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) currently utilized by the majority of the country. NRA-ILA continues to work with legislators to ensure the best possible version of H 562 passes the House, which would include transitioning from the current PPP system to NICS.
In its original form, H 562 would simply replace a nearly 100-year-old law that allows sheriffs to use arbitrary, personal discretion when determining who may lawfully purchase a handgun with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NICS is used in North Carolina for purchases of rifles and shotguns from licensed dealers. The current antiquated, inefficient law requires law-abiding North Carolina citizens to ask permission from their local sheriff before being allowed to purchase a handgun. Even if an individual is not prohibited from purchasing a handgun under federal or state law, a sheriff can still deny the request based on the sheriff’s personal belief that the individual is not of “good moral character,” whatever that means.
Furthermore, there is no real uniformity to how this law is implemented, as many sheriff departments operate the system differently. It is long past time for this system to be repealed, and for North Carolina to join the majority of the country by utilizing NICS for handgun purchases from licensed dealers.
Along with repealing the handgun purchase permit system, the original bill seeks to make a number of important improvements which would:
- Require the chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) of a jurisdiction to certify the transfer or making of a firearm in a timely manner. This measure had been removed in a previous version, but has been added back to the bill.
- Clarify the exemption for keeping a firearm in a vehicle by a person with a valid Concealed Handgun Permit while the vehicle is on the property of a public school.
- Improve the existing Range Protection Law, which would help to protect shooting ranges from new local ordinances designed to shut them down.
- Improve the issuing process and remove unnecessary disqualifiers for Concealed Handgun Permits.
- Remove the prohibition on using a lawfully possessed short barreled rifle for hunting.
- Strengthen North Carolina’s preemption statute.