It is now legal to purchase a pistol without a permit in North Carolina after the state’s Republican-led legislature overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
The state House voted to override Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 41 by 71-46 on Wednesday, a day after the state Senate voted 30-19 to do the same. Republicans hold a supermarjority in the state Senate but not in the House, but the absence of three Democrats allowed them to push through the override, CNN affiliate WRAL reported.
Softening permit requirements has been a long-standing goal of gun rights advocates, but this week’s move is taking place in the aftermath of yet another wrenching mass shooting in America, this one taking place at a school in Nashville, Tennessee, where six people, including three 9-year-old children, were killed.
According to a legislative summary, a criminal and background check had previously been required before a purchase permit for a handgun transfer could be issued. Individuals “under indictment or convicted of a felony, fugitives, unlawful drug users, those adjudicated mentally incompetent or who have been committed to any mental institution, illegal or unlawful aliens and those who have renounced United States citizenship, those with dishonorable discharges from the Armed Forces, and those subject to domestic violence restraining orders” were prohibited from obtaining a permit under the old law.
The permit repeal goes into effect immediately. Federal background checks for handgun purchases from licensed dealers remain in effect.
The law also broadens the ability for concealed carry gun permit holders to “carry a handgun in a place of religious worship located on privately-owned educational property” under certain circumstances, including it being outside of posted school hours, the summary stated. Properties owned by a “local board of education or county commission” are exempt from the law, as are public and private “institutes of higher education” and premises where posted notices prohibit the possession of firearms.
It also expands the number of people with a concealed carry permit who are currently employed by law enforcement agencies but not sworn officers themselves to carry in some “law enforcement or correctional” facilities, and creates a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative to educate the public.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican, said the bill “preserves the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians by repealing the outdated pistol permit system. It also allows all churches and other place of religious worship to protect their parishioners and launches a statewide firearm safe storage awareness initiative.”
Cooper angrily responded to the General Assembly’s move on Wednesday, saying Republicans had prevented debate on the override from taking place.
“Without any debate allowed by GOP leadership because the arguments were too compelling for them to hear, the House voted to override my veto and eliminate strong background checks for handguns in NC,” Cooper tweeted. “Allowing known domestic abusers and mentally ill people to buy handguns puts communities at risk.”
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, also objected to the override.
“Today’s move by the General Assembly to repeal our pistol permit law has made our communities less safe. Now, dangerous people – like violent criminals and domestic abusers – will be able to more easily get their hands on guns,” Stein said is a statement.
“Too many worry that their kids may not come home from school. Gun violence is a terrifying threat, and eliminating background checks will make the job of law enforcement officers more difficult. While our legislators failed us, I’ll continue to do everything in my power to keep people in our state safe.”