RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – State lawmakers are one step closer to ending the pistol purchase permit system.

North Carolina House members voted 69-48 Wednesday to pass House Bill 398, which would repeal the pistol purchase permit law.

“For over 100 years, we have had a pistol purchase permit in North Carolina. It has saved lives,” said Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), who voted against the bill.

The law, which dates back to 1919, requires local sheriff’s offices to approve handgun purchases using background checks. To buy a handgun in North Carolina, you either need a concealed carry license or a pistol purchase permit.

Rep. Jay Adams (R-Catawba) sponsored the bill. He says the system is outdated and unnecessary because gun dealers are already required to run criminal background checks on people who purchase handguns.

“If you wish to go and purchase a handgun today, you’re still gonna have to have a concealed carry license, or, you’re gonna undergo a national instant background check at the point of purchase,” he said before Wednesday’s vote.

Adams also pointed out the statewide pistol permit backlog that has lasted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What happened in some of the urban counties, the sheriffs were overloaded with requests for pistol purchase permits,” said Adams. “The result was a very long backlog. In Mecklenberg County today, they’re processing pistol purchase permits that were originated in November.”

The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association supports the bill.

“The reason for that is there have been significant changes in the federal database commonly referred to the acronym of NICS that contain criminal history records and now contain involuntary [mental health] commitment records,” said Eddie Caldwell, Executive VP and General Counsel for the N.C. Sheriff’s Association.

But several individual sheriffs oppose it, including Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker.
When asked about the issue a few weeks ago, Baker said, “We need every inch of accountability to who’s going to be possessing a handgun.”

Morey told House members, “If we repeal this bill, it will be easier for those who are convicted of felonies, domestic violence abusers and others who cannot by law, buy a handgun, to circumvent laws and get handguns from strangers.”

The bill now goes to the North Carolina Senate for consideration.