Bill aimed at repealing pistol purchase permit also hopes to expand rights to carry guns in church

A Second Amendment bill in the North Carolina State Senate has progressed through the chamber and is now headed to the State House of Representatives.
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 4:31 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Second Amendment bill in the North Carolina State Senate has progressed through the chamber and is now headed to the State House of Representatives. The North Carolina Senate voted 29-19 across party lines on Senate Bill 41, which would repeal the state’s pistol purchase permit law on Thursday.

The bill would also allow carrying of firearms in places of worship properties that have schools as well, but it’s not going to allow guns on school property at any time.

Since 1995, anyone attending a place of worship (churches, synagogues, temples, mosques) that is legally allowed to carry a firearm could do so on that property --- as long as the property owner allows it.

Things change when a place of worship also serves as a school.

Senate Bill 41 would clarify the language of state law and allow the same right to carry a firearm on a church property even if they operate a school --- but there are exceptions.

“This applies only to private churches that sponsor schools and only outside the hours of the circular and extra circular activities at the school,” Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots N.C. an advocacy group that supports the bill.

This means carrying a firearm during school hours or during school-related events would not be permitted. State Senator Danny Britt Jr. wrote the bill. He said the purpose of allowing firearms in churches with schools is to allow all private churches the same rights whether they have a school.

He also said that recent events like shootings at churches or other places of worship have led to more congregations looking to add security.

“A lot of churches try to have security teams now based on some things that have gone on in our nation. So they would be committing a felony if that church is connected to a school, even though there’s absolutely no school children on the grounds even though no school activities going on,” he said.

Britt said if the bill passes and churches don’t want weapons on their campus, that’s their right to prevent people from carrying them.

“Really, all we’re saying is that if it’s a private property owner, they need to be able to have the right to say who can and who can’t carry on their property,” Britt said.

Pistol Purchase Permits

North Carolina law requires anyone who wants to buy a handgun get approval from their local sheriff and Senate Bill 41 would remove that stipulation.

Dane Britt owns Private Firearms Training in Wilmington and said despite what some might think buying a firearm is not a simple process due to federal requirements.

“There’s always a lot of talk about how easy it is to buy guns, when in reality, it absolutely is not. There are multiple checks that have to be done before, --- this goes the same for pistol rifle shotgun does not matter, handguns or rifles, they still have to do a federal background check,” he said.

Opponents of repealing the pistol purchase permit law say the system in place now adds extra protections by preventing person-to-person sales of pistols that wouldn’t require a background check.

“This system is so important because our federal background check system only applies if you’re buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer,” Executive Director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence Becky Ceartas said when this bill was introduced in late January.

She also said repealing pistol purchase permits would allow people to buy pistols under the so-called ‘Gun Show Loophole.’

Britt said when he goes to a gun show to sell firearms, he’s still legally required to run all the background checks he would at his store.

“That gun show loophole term it’s so interesting to me, I’ve never understood it. At the gun shows we have to do the exact same background checks as an FFL, we’re still going to have to check and do the same thing is looking for if they have their pistol purchase permits their concealed carry permits, if they’re wanting to buy rifles and shotguns, we have to do the exact same background checks,” Britt said.

Essentially, when people talk about the gun show loophole, they are talking about federal law which does not require background checks when selling a firearm if the seller is not in the business of selling firearms. For example, a collector who wants to sell pieces from their collection isn’t required to run a federal background check in most states.

In North Carolina, even if the seller is a collector, they would not be allowed to sell a handgun without first confirming the buyer has a pistol purchase permit.

Senator Danny Britt said person-to-person sales of firearms are a small minority of all gun sales.

Those private-to-private sales only account for less than 10% of all sales that are done. Any private sale that is done online from guns list or any of these big groups that do that any, any over the state line sale still requires a federal background check,” he said.

He also said even with a pistol purchase permit in place, he challenges the notion that someone with bad intentions who would not pass a background check to legally purchase a handgun would be dissuaded from illegally purchasing one.

“Your criminal that’s bent on doing something wrong is not going to go to the sheriff and ask for a pistol purchase permit. They’re going to purchase a gun illegally, just like many folks who do wrong do now,” he said.