This week, a judge ruled that Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker could not suspend pistol permitting approvals during the Coronavirus outbreak. As JLF’s Jon Guze writes in his most recent research brief, Sheriff Baker suspended pistol permitting applications for two reasons:

  • an unmanageable backlog of recently filed applications and
  • his desire to “stay in line with efforts to keep this virus out of this building.”

Guze writes that both of those are valid concerns:

According to Baker’s lieutenant, Scott Sefton, since the beginning of the year, the rate at which applications have been filed in Wake County has more than tripled, and the office is currently processing about 290 per day. Because the law requires applicants to appear in person, that means hundreds of applicants, any one of whom could be carrying COVID-19, are lining up outside the sheriff’s office every day, rather than sheltering at home.  It also means Sheriff Baker’s staff are having to interact face-to-face with (and in many cases fingerprint) all applicants. That’s really not the sort of contact that we want right now.

There’s a simple solution. Guze writes:

[T]here’s actually an easier and better solution to the entire problem, one that should satisfy both Sheriff Baker and his critics. The statute requiring handgun purchase permits should be suspended for the duration of the emergency or, better still, it should be permanently repealed.

Only 10 states and the District of Columbia require pistol purchase permits. Significantly, two of those states, Illinois and Maryland, are among the 10 states with the highest homicide rates in the country, and the homicide rate in the District of Columbia is higher still. Given that, it is very hard to see what justification there can be for continuing to require pistol purchase permits in North Carolina.  This is particularly true during a period when we are trying to reduce face-to-face interactions and lighten the load on government agencies.

Read the full brief here. Learn more about how gun and ammo sales should be classified as essential services during a state of emergency here.