North Carolina Bill Seeks to Repeal Pistol Permit and Shorten Felons’ Wait to Get Gun Rights Back

April 10, 2021 Updated: April 10, 2021

North Carolina Republicans have filed a pro-Second Amendment bill that would repeal the state’s handgun permit requirement and reduce the number of years that people convicted of nonviolent crimes must wait before seeking to have their gun rights restored.

GOP state Sens. Danny Britt, Jim Perry, and Todd Johnson, sponsored Senate Bill 687 (pdf), which was filed on April 7 and the following day referred to the Committee On Rules and Operations of the Senate for consideration.

The bill seeks to lower from the current 20 down to 10 the number of years North Carolinians convicted of nonviolent felonies must wait from the moment their civil rights have been restored to when they’re eligible to apply to get their firearm rights back.

While North Carolina automatically restores a person’s civil rights after they have finished their sentence and fulfilled requirements like parole and fees, some states do not, with implications for the Second Amendment rights of North Carolinians who served sentences for crimes in such states, but never applied for the restoration of their civil rights.

In an interview with The Center Square, Britt described the situation of a North Carolina constituent convicted of a crime in Virginia, who waited 17 years before applying and getting his civil rights restored there.

“So basically, he’s gonna have his firearms rights gone for 37 years, and this is somebody who’s never had any other convictions. He’s wanting to take his grandson hunting,” Britt said.

The bill addresses this problem by allowing North Carolinians convicted of nonviolent felonies out of state to apply for the restoration of firearms rights even if their civil rights have not been restored, provided that ten years have passed since they became eligible to have their civil rights restored.

The legislation proposes no changes to the final decision on the restoration of gun rights, which remains up to the court.

The bill also seeks to make it legal to acquire handguns in North Carolina without having to first apply for a permit, by repealing pistol purchase permit laws enacted before the establishment of the federal NICS background check system.

“This relic that is the pistol purchase permit now only serves as a time barrier, an unnecessary fee, and a general inconvenience to the exercise of the Second Amendment,” the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said in a statement.

The move came as President Joe Biden announced several gun control measures on Thursday, seeking to stop the proliferation of so-called ghost guns and pushing states to adopt “red flag” laws.

Biden is directing the Department of Justice to issue a proposed rule aimed at curbing the spread of guns made from build-it-yourself kits, which have no serial numbers and are virtually impossible to trace, posing a challenge to law enforcement if they are used to commit a crime.

The department will also issue a proposed rule on stabilizing braces—accessories that make a pistol perform more like a rifle—and publish model “red flag” legislation. Red flag laws let family members or law enforcement ask a court to bar people from owning guns if the people allegedly present a danger to themselves or others.

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