News Roundup

As the North State Journal reports, the General Assembly recently passed a bill that repeals North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit law.  Opinions on the bill are divided and it remains to be seen whether Governor Cooper will sign it into law.  Keep reading for more on this story and other news.

Pistol Permits.  As noted in the lead, the permit repeal bill has been controversial.  The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association says that the purchase permit requirement now is duplicative since firearm sellers use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to check a purchaser’s criminal history and mental health records.  A statement released by Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger criticized Democrats for not supporting the measure, saying that the permit system is discriminatory in that Black applicants are rejected at a much higher rate than white applicants.  Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement that repealing the permit requirement threatens public safety because under the current system sheriffs consider the risk that a person may pose to community safety.

SB 300.  In other legislative news, the General Assembly passed SB 300 this week, a bill that includes a wide range of modifications to North Carolina criminal law.  Among other things, the bill mandates first appearances for misdemeanor defendants held in custody and limits the proliferation of ordinance crimes.  The bill also includes policing reforms, with a provision requiring law enforcement officers to intervene when they observe another officer using excessive force, and a provision modifying the state’s law on the disclosure of body camera footage.  There’s a lot in the bill and its worth a look.

Flood Relief.  North Carolina readers know that some areas in the western part of the state experienced devastating flooding earlier this month due to tremendous amounts of rain from Tropical Depression Fred.  As the Asheville Citizen-Times reports, Haywood County suffered some of the worst damage, with 169 homes being totally destroyed and hundreds of others damaged.  Five people in the county were killed by the storm.  The Citizen-Times article says the Madison County Sheriff’s Office has been lending a hand to its neighbor, delivering two truckloads of donated supplies to the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office for distribution to people in need.

Medical Marijuana.  The Associated Press reports that a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina continues to advance in the General Assembly after being approved by the Senate Health Care Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

Breyer Interview.  The New York Times recently published an interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer where he discusses his new book “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics,” where he argues that the court’s authority is undermined when it becomes embroiled in partisan politics.  In the interview, Breyer, who is 83, also discussed his ongoing deliberation about when to retire from the court, saying that he does not think that he will stay on the court until he dies, or at least that he hopes not.