As the Republican-controlled state legislature overrode the Democratic governor’s veto on Wednesday, North Carolina residents can now purchase a handgun without first obtaining a permit from their local sheriff – a first since 2018.
The law, which abolishes the long-standing permit system requiring sheriffs to conduct character assessments and criminal history checks on firearm applicants, was approved by House 71–46.
On a party-line vote on Tuesday, the Senate overrode the veto of Democratic Governor Roy Cooper.
The permit is immediately repealed. Cooper and Democratic senators cautioned that it inhibits law enforcement’s capacity to prevent more dangerous individuals from obtaining weapons through private sales, which do not need a background check.
Nevertheless, proponents of the bill argue that the permit requirement failed to act as a crime deterrent and that the sheriff screening procedure is no longer essential in light of significant improvements to the national background check system.
Although having veto-proof majorities in the Senate thanks to seat gains made during the midterm elections, the Republicans fell one seat short of a similar majority in the House.
According to the results of the House vote on Wednesday, three Democrats abstained on the override, leaving a margin large enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement.
Republicans required at least one Democratic supporter or two Democrats to abstain from voting.
Also, the passed law will permit guns on some school grounds where religious services are held.
Cooper defeated stand-alone measures in 2021 that would have repealed the requirement for a pistol purchase permit and allowed some churchgoers to carry a gun during services held in private schools.
Democrats at the time held enough seats to prevent any attempt at an override if they remained unified.