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North Carolina governor vetoes pistol permit repeal

Lawmakers say they plan to override Gov. Cooper’s veto.

Published: March 24, 2023 5:20pm

Updated: March 24, 2023 11:52pm

(The Center Square) -

Repeal of a more than 100-year-old firearms law in North Carolina has fallen to a gubernatorial veto.

Late Friday afternoon, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper rejected Senate Bill 41, sponsored by Republican Sen. Danny Britt of Robeson County.

North Carolinians need a pistol permit from their respective county sheriffs. The legislation repealed that 110-year-old statute. The Senate bill also included a measure to allow concealed carry of firearms at religious services that share locations with private or charter schools and to launch a two-year firearm safe storage awareness initiative.

The southeastern North Carolina senator responded that he looked forward to a swift veto override.

"Eliminating strong background checks will allow more domestic abusers and other dangerous people to own handguns and reduces law enforcement's ability to stop them from committing violent crimes," Cooper wrote in his veto message. "Second Amendment supporting, responsible gun owners know this will put families and communities at risk."

Britt says the vast majority of pistol sales in North Carolina take place through federally licensed dealers, who would still be required to conduct checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System run by the FBI.

Britt, in a statement, said, "When given the opportunity to guarantee Second Amendment protections in North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper chose to maintain our duplicative gun laws and infringe on our constitutional rights. I look forward to a swift veto override in the Senate."

Supermajority votes – or three-fifths – in each chamber can override a governor's veto. The Senate vote was 29-19, with two excused absences, and all votes were on party lines. The House vote was 70-44, with Democrats Marvin Lucas of Cumberland County, Shelly Willingham of Edgecombe County and Michael Wray of Northampton County joining 67 Republicans; there were six excused absences.

With both chambers in full attendance, Republicans have a supermajority in the Senate and are one vote shy in the House. When the session began in January, it was notable that Willingham and Wray gained co-chairmanships of committees.

Supporters of the change have cited complaints about the slow pace of permit approvals. There are 100 counties in the state, and support for repeal is present from the North Carolina Sheriff's Association.

Democrats have argued the bill would create a "giant loophole" that would allow dangerous individuals to obtain handguns through private sellers who are not required to conduct background checks.

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