On Tuesday, March 24, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker suspended pistol permit and concealed-carry services in light of the coronavirus outbreak. That week, JLF’s Jon Sanders published a research brief explaining that Baker did not have the statutory or constitutional authority to make that decision. That Friday, The N.C. Sheriffs Association backed up Sanders’ assertion, stating:

[W]e can find no legal authority authorizing a sheriff to stop processing and issuing the following permits because of a declared state of emergency…

G.S. § 14-404(f) requires a sheriff to either issue or deny the pistol purchase permit “within 14 days of the date of application” and there are no exceptions in the law to this deadline.

On March 31, a Superior Court judge came to the same conclusion in Travis Groo v. Wake County Sheriff’s Office, and Gerald Baker. Carolina Journal’s John Trump reports:

As part of the judge’s order, Baker, the Wake County sheriff “has agreed to modify the application process so as to minimize or alleviate the admission of applicants for said permits to the Public Safety Center during the term of the current declared states of emergency and to resume processing applications in as timely a fashion as possible under the current conditions.”

Trump quotes Baker’s response to the ruling:

“I’m very pleased with Judge Shirley’s ruling,” Baker said in a news release, according to WRAL. “I believe the court’s review of the entire situation reveals that my primary purpose has always been, and will continue to be, to protect the safety and welfare of my staff, Wake County citizens and the jail residents housed in the Wake County Public Safety Center.”

Read the judge’s full ruling here. Read why North Carolina must make it explicit that gun and ammo sales are essential services in an emergency here.