The North Carolina General Assembly’s “Short” Session is under way, and while there were several solid pro-gun advancements made last year, there is still some work that needs to be done this year. As you likely recall, last year’s omnibus firearms reform bill, House Bill 562, faced heavy debate in the House. While that vehicle originally included language to repeal the outdated, inefficient Pistol Purchase Permit (PPP) system, legislators voted to remove that provision by supporting an amendment authored by state Representative Allen McNeill (R-78). This amendment was supported by the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA), and strongly opposed by NRA. (To see how your legislator voted on the McNeill Amendment, please click here)
Unfortunately, when drafting his amendment, Representative McNeill included a new requirement for PPP applications. Similar to the requirement when applying for a Right-to-Carry permit in North Carolina, one must now sign a release to authorize access to mental health records to determine if the applicant is prohibited from purchasing a firearm due to a mental health disqualification. This requirement has not been requested by the NCSA in the past, so it is possible Representative McNeill included it by accident. Nonetheless, this new requirement has created substantial problems that should be corrected.
NRA has been hearing from members in North Carolina that there are now substantial delays in the processing of PPP applications, and it is clearly due to this new requirement. There have been news reports about the problem, and Mecklenburg County and its sheriff are at the center of this issue. We have received reports of applications taking upwards of four months to be processed in Mecklenberg County, in spite of the fact that state law clearly sets a maximum timeframe to approve or deny a PPP application at 14 days. Mecklenberg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael has even indicated he knows he is violating state law, and will continue to do so.
Whether or not this problem is isolated to Mecklenberg County is unclear, but it needs to be fixed.
In addition, misinformation has been circulated by the media on this subject, with one article claiming that the new regulation “requires mental health background checks for all instead of just some.” In fact, mental health checks have always been a part of the process sheriffs use for issuing a PPP. They are required to run their background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and North Carolina statute has required mental health disqualifiers be reported to NICS since 2008.
Please contact your state Representative and state Senator and urge them to work with NRA to repeal this unnecessary new requirement that has created this problem. If you have experienced any delays when applying for a PPP, please be sure to let your elected officials know, as they may not be aware of the problem in your area.