Grass Roots North Carolina / Forum For Firearms Education
Post Office Box 10665, Raleigh, NC 27605
877.282.0939 (Phone) 919.573.0354 (Fax)




Release date: March 27, 2023


Cooper veto helps thousands of felons get guns

North Carolina’s archaic Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit law enables thousands of felons to purchase firearms as much as five years after committing disqualifying crimes, according to a 2014 report from the North Carolina Sheriffs Association (NCSA).

By eliminating the permits, Senate Bill 41, recently vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper, would require computerized gun background checks to be done at the time and point of sale rather than up to 5 years prior.


Up to 35,488 revocable permits in Mecklenburg County alone


Entitled “Pistol Purchase Permit Revocations: A Report to the General Assembly,” the report compared permits issued to the computerized National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to determine how many permit applicants committed disqualifying crimes after receiving  paper permits.

Because the permits are valid for 5 years and can be used to bypass the usual NICS background check when buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer, it is possible for someone to legally get a permit, then commit a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, potentially even serving jail time before using the un-trackable paper permit to avoid a gun purchase background check.

 Said the NCSA report:

 “The NICS … reports included 165 or 23.5% of permits being subject to revocation in Camden County and 35,488 or 38% of permits being subject to revocation in Mecklenburg County. Several sheriffs’ offices had over 40% of their permits reported subject to revocation in the NICS report.” [Emphasis added]


“The DOJ/ITD and SBI/DCI staff have batch processed 95 sheriffs’ offices files to NICS and NICS returned 195,937 permits as subject to revocation due to an event or condition that occurred subsequent to the issuance of the permit that would have disqualified the individual from receiving a pistol purchase permit at application.” [Emphasis added]

The problem with NICS estimates is that one criminal may hold multiple permits. (Because each paper permit is valid for only one purchase and is turned in at the point of sale, many applicants apply for multiple permits.) NCSA also ran extant permits through a different system, the “Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services” (CJLEADS), which found 2,969 permit-holders in Mecklenburg County subject to revocation.


NCSA report finds revoking permits impossible

Because permits are slips of paper un-trackable by sheriffs, noted the report, revocation becomes “nearly impossible.” Among the report’s conclusions:


  • “A sheriff has no way of knowing if a permit has been used since issuance”
  • “Conducting periodic background checks on all active permits manually (researching each name on a weekly or monthly basis) is a nearly impossible task for all sheriffs’ offices”
  • “Sheriffs do not know if an active permit has been used…”
  • “Sheriffs’ offices cannot account for permits claimed to be ‘lost’” and finally,
  • “Gun dealers do not know if a permit has been revoked”


What about private transfers?


SB 41 opponents claim that because purchase permits are required for private sales, crime will increase when the purchase permit system is repealed. However, data summarized by the NC Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) suggests otherwise. As depicted on the AOC chart below, a 5 year period (2018 through 2022) revealed only 4 convictions for transferring a weapon without a permit.


Said GRNC president Paul Valone:


“With thousands of purchase permits potentially held by felons and domestic abusers who committed crimes after receiving permits valid for five years, the North Carolina pistol purchase system is clearly out of control. Worst of all, the actual number of felons holding permits is unknowable due to the archaic nature of the system, and revocation of permits from people has been described by sheriffs as ‘nearly impossible.’ By vetoing Senate Bill 41, Governor Roy Cooper is helping thousands of felons and domestic abusers get guns. We call upon members of the NC General Assembly to over-ride Cooper’s veto, thereby ensuring that criminal background checks are done at the time and point of sale rather than up to five years prior.”





Founded in 1994, Grass Roots North Carolina is an all-volunteer 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to preserving individual liberties guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with emphasis on the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.