Lawsuit filed after Wake County sheriff halts pistol purchase permits

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Wake County resident and three groups Friday filed a lawsuit against Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker after he decided earlier this week to halt pistol purchase permit applications.

The lawsuit plaintiffs include Grass Roots North Carolina, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition, according to the suit.

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

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.

The lawsuit said that Baker’s excuse for stopping the permits is not valid.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak in NC

“…no exception exists for administrative complications, inadequate staff or resources, or any other extenuating circumstances in processing the applications,” according to the lawsuit, which was also filed by Wake County resident Kelly Stafford.

A news release from the groups filing the lawsuit said that it “tracks a 2011 federal court victory in Bateman v. Perdue.”

The news release said that case successfully challenged North Carolina statutes restricting firearms during states of emergency.

RELATED: Click here to read the lawsuit filed Friday

Before the suit was filed Friday, some said 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 said the decision does not limit anyone’s right to purchase a handgun. Rather, he said, 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.

There are currently at least 755 applications pending.

Eric Curry, spokesman for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, said Baker’s office had no comment about the lawsuit.

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