North Carolina -- According to proposed House Bill 937, North Carolina would do away with the current system which requires people to get a pistol purchase permit from the local sheriff.
Right now, a person must get a permit from their local sheriff's office in order to buy a handgun. New language was added to House Bill 937 on Tuesday which would eliminate that requirement.
House Bill 937 would require a concealed weapons permit or a background check to buy a pistol, but not a permit from a sheriff.
That means that someone could buy a handgun from a store without getting the okay from their local sheriff, an idea some sheriffs aren't happy with.
"It's a deal breaker for the sheriffs to be honest with you. We supported the bill as it was but this addition taking away the fact that you have to get a pistol permit. We got some issues with that," said Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes.
Sheriff Barnes told WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford that local sheriffs have a better idea of who is in their communities and can better ensure that a gun won't end up in the wrong hands.
For example, even if someone doesn't have any record or charges against them, the sheriff can deny them a pistol purchase permit.
They might know whether a person has a history of mental illness or domestic violence based on knowledge only the sheriff's office would know such as 911 calls or even tips.
"They don't know what kind of calls have been received out there, they don't know what the mental state of that person is, they don't know if they've made any threats, have been involved in any domestic issues or anything along those lines," added Sheriff Barnes.
While issuing permits is a time consuming process, Sheriff Barnes believes it's a public safety issue. It's necessary to keep guns out of the wrong hands. For Barnes, this addition to House Bill 937 is a deal breaker for him.
"If they don't have to go through us, and no one knows what kind of person they really are, the wrong person may get the gun."
Davidson County Sheriff David Grice feels the same. He does not think doing away with pistol purchase permits is a good idea. In fact, he worries about identity fraud. People could easily use a fake identification to purchase a pistol at a store. When it goes through the sheriff's office, they do thorough checks on the individual such as citizenship, felony or domestic violence convictions, court judgments of mental incompetence or commitment to a mental institution, or drug abuse.
NC Attorney General Roy Cooper issued this statement:
Eliminating permit background checks means more criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerous mentally ill can legally buy handguns. Instead we should be looking for ways to keep guns from them.
House Bill 937 also expands gun rights on school campuses and other public places. Individuals with proper permits would be allowed to store guns inside their locked vehicles on public college campuses.
The bill would allow permit holders to carry weapons in places like bars and restaurants. The senate also added parades and funeral processions to the places people can take concealed weapons legally.
House Bill 937 also adds stricter penalties for people who possess a gun without a permit.
To view the bill, click here: House Bill 937
WFMY News 2