Changes to the Gun Permit Laws

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North Carolina has two kinds of gun permits: pistol purchase permits and concealed carry permits. Both types of permits are issued by sheriffs. The statutes concerning both kinds of permits were amended during the 2015 legislative session by S.L. 2015-195. This post summarizes the most important changes.

Pistol purchase permits.

  • Release for mental health court orders. The new law at least allows, and perhaps requires, a sheriff to obtain from a permit applicant a standard AOC release for “court orders concerning the mental health or capacity” of the applicant. Note that this release does not grant the sheriff access to the applicant’s medical records; it is limited to court orders.
  • Limits on character affidavits. A sheriff may decline to issue a permit to a person who lacks good moral character. In evaluating an applicant’s moral character, G.S. 14-404(a)(2) states that the sheriff may consider “affidavits, oral evidence,” or other information. Historically, some sheriffs have required that applicants submit affidavits from others concerning the applicants’ character. However, new G.S. 14-404(e1) provides that a sheriff may require only the following from an application: a standard SBI application form; a five dollar application fee; ID; proof of residency; and the AOC release concerning court orders discussed above. Therefore, it seems that sheriffs are no longer permitted to require affidavits, though perhaps an applicant could still submit affidavits voluntarily if he or she thought that doing so would be helpful.
  • Five-year limit for determining good moral character. The new law provides that “[f]or purposes of determining an applicant’s good moral character . . . the sheriff shall only consider an applicant’s conduct and criminal history for the five‑year period immediately preceding the date of the application.” Note that the five-year limit applies only to the moral character determination. Criminal convictions that are more than five years old may still be considered when a sheriff is making the separate determination of whether it would be a violation of state or federal law for the applicant to possess a handgun.
  • Appeals to superior court. When a sheriff denies an applicant a permit, the applicant has a right to appeal. Such appeals formerly went to the chief district court judge, but now go to a superior court judge.
  • Standard form for permits. When issuing a permit, sheriffs must use a “standard form created by the State Bureau of Investigation in consultation with the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.”

 

Concealed handgun permits.

  • More lenient rules for misdemeanor convictions. Previously, G.S. 14-415.12(b)(8) provided that an applicant was permanently ineligible to receive a permit if he or she had a conviction of a misdemeanor crime of violence (defined to include all the assaults found in Article 8 of Chapter 14) or any of several other misdemeanors listed in the subdivision. The revised statute appears to create a tiered system, with a permanent bar only for the misdemeanors listed in subdivisions (b)(8a) (generally, misdemeanor aggravated assaults), (8b) (misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence), and (8c) (misdemeanor offenses against law enforcement officers and specified others), and a three-year bar for other misdemeanor crimes of violence and other misdemeanors listed in subdivision (8). Furthermore, the language has been amended such that a conviction of simple assault or simple affray under G.S. 14-33(a) appears no longer to be a disqualifier at all, even for three years. Neither are convictions for harassing a juror, G.S. 14-225.2, or disorderly conduct by abusive language, G.S. 14-288.4(a)(2). (Note: the statutory language is difficult to interpret and others who have examined it read it differently than I do.)
  • Limits on character affidavits and other materials.S. 14-415.13 sets out the materials an applicant must provide to the sheriff: an application form, a fee, a set of fingerprints, proof of completion of a concealed carry course, and a mental health records release. The new law requires the sheriff to make the application form available electronically, and prohibits the sheriff from requesting “employment information, character affidavits, additional background checks, photographs, or other information.”
  • Permits now available for permanent residents. Formerly available only to United States citizens, permits may now be issued to those who qualify as permanent residents under federal immigration law.
  • Concealed carry may be prohibited at the State Fair. The new law allows the Commissioner of Agriculture to prohibit concealed carry at the State Fair, with exceptions for a few categories of people.
  • Expanded scope for administrative law judges and some DPS employees.S. 14-415.11(c) provides that a permit does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealed handgun on school grounds, at law enforcement facilities, on posted private property, and in certain other places. G.S. 14-415.27 contains a long and growing list of people who are not subject to those scope restrictions. The new law adds to that list administrative law judges and DPS employees designated by the Secretary.

 

Additional resources. Those interested in other resources on permits and recent changes in the law may wish to consult this quick reference guide to the permit process, prepared jointly by the NC Sheriffs’ Association and the AOC, or this AOC memo addressing some of the details of S.L. 2015-195.

9 comments on “Changes to the Gun Permit Laws

  1. I applied for a NC gun purchase permit in December 2015.
    On 10 Jan 2016 I submitted my notarized mental health form.
    Today is 18 Feb and the sheriff’s office in Charlotte does not
    know how much longer it will take.
    This seems to infringe upon my 2nd Amendment rights.

    • It DOES infringe your 2nd Amendment rights and is good reason why the people of Mecklenburg County ought to rise up and throw Irwin Carmichael out of office.

      Of course this intentional foot-dragging by county sheriffs is going on all over North Carolina. Carmichael can’t hold a candle to Jack Van Duncan here in Buncombe County for interfering with the rights of the citizens, including their 2nd Amendment rights.

    • § 14-415.15. Issuance or denial of permit.

      (a) Except as permitted under subsection (b) of this section, within 45 days after receipt of the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13 from an applicant, and receipt of the required records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant, the sheriff shall either issue or deny the permit. The sheriff may conduct any investigation necessary to determine the qualification or competency of the person applying for the permit, including record checks. The sheriff shall make the request for any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant within 10 days of receipt of the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13. No person, company, mental health provider, or governmental entity may charge additional fees to the applicant for background checks conducted under this subsection. A permit shall not be denied unless the applicant is determined to be ineligible pursuant to G.S. 14-415.12.

      Per NC GS 14-415(b), Upon receipt of the notarized AOC release form, the Sheriff’s Dept. must send it to the appropriate agencies within 10 days.

      Per that same statute, it appears that ONCE ALL pertinent responses (such as fingerprint response, AOC response, medical response, etc) have been received by the sheriff’s dept., the sheriff’s dept. has 45 days from that date to issue or deny.

      Once data entry has been entered to the NC SBI to either issue or deny, the NC SBI, will then print and MAIL your permit (or not, if denied) to that sheriff’s dept. Upon receipt of the permit(s), there is more work to be done by the sheriff’s dept, such as (not all inclusive list of tasks): entering into the database, sheriff signing it (or stamp signature),then embossing with the raised seal, and notifying the applicant that the permit is now ready and available for pick up.

      10 days (allowed per statute) for sheriff’s dept to send off AOC
      + ? ever how many days for other agencies to respond
      + 45 days (allowed per statute) from time sheriff’s dept
      receives FINAL response from whatever agency is last to
      respond, must enter data to NC SBI to issue or deny
      + ? ever how many days for SBI to do their data entry & mail permits
      + ? Postal Service mailing package of permits to the Sheriff’s Dept
      + ? Sheriff’s Dept has more work to do upon receipt

      It can be quite a process for all involved – a lot of layers to the proverbial onion.

    • Hi, I have a similar problem. My concealed permit was denied for Mental health problem reason. It was a misunderstanding in both parts, me and the Dr. office. My appeal was denied by the superior court judge. It seems like the judge didn’t take the time to review the documentation and Dr. letter explaining it was a misunderstanding and no need to receive treatment. I’m thinking to reapply again. Where did you the mental health form? .

  2. Jeff,

    If a person’s permit is revoked by the Sheriff, prior to December of 2015, would they appeal now to the District court or to Superior Court?

    Additionally, who, if anyone, is the opposing party in interest? To whom is notice of the appeal served? To the AG’s office? To the local District Attorney? Also, is there a time limitation to appeal a Sheriff’s revocation? The statute references none.

  3. North Carolina General Statue 14-415.15(a) states: No person, company, mental health provider or governmental entity may charge additional fees to the applicant for background checks conducted under this subsection”. Sheriffs in North Carolina, specifically Ashe county and others, are requiring the applicant to obtain a mental health background check from third parties, which charge a fee. This violates statue. The only authiorized fees are for the sheriffs check, and fingerprinting. (I suspect the notary fee required is legal as well). Anyone else seeing this?

  4. § 14-415.13. Application for a permit; fingerprints.
    (a) A person shall apply to the sheriff of the county in which the person resides to obtain a concealed handgun permit. The applicant shall submit to the sheriff all of the following:
    (1) An application, completed under oath, on a form provided by the sheriff, and such application form must be provided by the sheriff electronically. The sheriff shall not request employment information, character affidavits, additional background checks, photographs, or other information unless specifically permitted by this Article.
    (2) A nonrefundable permit fee.
    (3) A full set of fingerprints of the applicant administered by the sheriff.
    (4) An original certificate of completion of an approved course, adopted and distributed by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission, signed by the certified instructor of the course attesting to the successful completion of the course by the applicant which shall verify that the applicant is competent with a handgun and knowledgeable about the laws governing the carrying of a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force.
    (5) A release, in a form to be prescribed by the Administrative Office of the Courts, that authorizes and requires disclosure to the sheriff of any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant to be used for the sole purpose of determining whether the applicant is disqualified for a permit under the provisions of G.S. 14-415.12. This provision does not prohibit submitting information related to involuntary commitment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

    § 14-415.15. Issuance or denial of permit.
    (a) Except as permitted under subsection (b) of this section, within 45 days after receipt of the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13 from an applicant, and receipt of the required records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant, the sheriff shall either issue or deny the permit. The sheriff may conduct any investigation necessary to determine the qualification or competency of the person applying for the permit, including record checks. The sheriff shall make the request for any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant within 10 days of receipt of the items listed in G.S. 14-415.13. No person, company, mental health provider, or governmental entity may charge additional fees to the applicant for background checks conducted under this subsection. A permit shall not be denied unless the applicant is determined to be ineligible pursuant to G.S. 14-415.12.

    Per NCGS 14.415.13(a)(5) listed above, North Carolina LAW requires the Sheriff’s Dept to have the Administrative Office of the Court(AOC) release form completed and submitted to the appropriate agencies (Clerk of Courts and healthcare providers).

    North Carolina Law only applies to North Carolina. So if your healthcare provider is within North Carolina, the NCGS 14-415.15(a), states that they may NOT charge you, ‘the applicant’ for this requirement. If, however, your healthcare provider is outside of NC, then it seems that any fee incurred is on you as the applicant. (Just as college applicants are responsible for any fees incurred with their application requirements).

    Again, all of this is mandated by State Law, NOT the sheriff’s dept.

  5. Hello @Jeff! Thanks for this blog post. As the criminals are finding the loopholes in the gun law as an advantage and exploiting them, the gun law should be more stricter and significant amendment must be made. Apart from that, the lawmakers must analyze every possible issues with the existing law and there should be continual changes in it. People having criminal records in their past are more inclined to perpetrate more crimes if they are permitted to possess firearms in any way. A thorough background check on the applicants would help authority know about their pasts and take necessary actions according to it.

  6. If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor assault that occurred more than ten years ago and hasn’t had any law violations for ten years, is he ellidgable to be granted a concealed weapons carry permit?

    Thank you

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