Gun advocates, lawmakers push back on Wake County sheriff’s pause on pistol purchase permits

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some groups and state lawmakers are pushing back on Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker’s decision to halt pistol purchase permit applications.

Baker announced Tuesday his office will temporarily suspend issuing pistol purchase permits through April 30, saying they have been inundated with an unprecedented number of applications.

“That will give us time to process the numerous applications that have come in over the last week. Numerous to the point where it’s a 250 percent increase in those applications to purchase weapons,” Baker said.

Local gun shops like Fuquay Gun say business has soared since the coronavirus pandemic began.

“We have seen an uptick in new customers coming in to buy their first firearm and ammunition. Just in case they get into a situation where they have to protect themselves, or their valuables,” said Fuquay Gun owner Clay Ausley.

Baker’s decision has led some to say it’s an infringement on their second amendment right, including Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R).

“The problem is people are scared right now, and in times when people are scared you can’t be denying them their ability to protect themselves. It feeds into a lot of paranoia and mistrust,” Moore said.

Moore also questioned the legality of the move.

Baker says the decision does not limit anyone’s right to purchase a handgun.  Rather, he says, the move will limit people encountering each other during the state of emergency.

“We’re not telling you you can no longer get pistol permits, but what we’re trying to do is still in line with the efforts of keeping that virus out of this building,” he said.

Non-profit “Grass Roots of North Carolina” says it will consider legal action if Baker doesn’t reconsider his decision.

The group says its mission is to educate and engage in activism to preserve “freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.”

“It is illegal to purchase a handgun in North Carolina without first obtaining a permit, meaning the action most certainly does limit people’s ability to purchase a handgun,” GRNC said in a statement.

There are currently 755 applications pending.

The suspension will allow staff and the Wake County Clerk of Courts to process the backlog of pending applications.

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