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Another part of the bill requires the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO), typically the county sheriff, to certify the transfer of a firearm within 15 days if the person is not prohibited from receiving or possessing one by law. H.B. 562 would also prohibit most businesses and public and private employers from establishing policies that prohibit storage of a concealed handgun in an individual’s vehicle in parking lots owned by the business. Makes sense allowing CCHP holders to carry on their way to and from work. Another part of the bill improves and standardizes the law regulating how businesses must post their property prohibiting concealed carry handguns on their property or in the business.

It will also improve the issuing process and remove unnecessary disqualifiers from the Concealed Carry Permit process. Now to the most controversial part of the bill. As attempted in the previous omnibus gun bill, it would repeal the requirement that citizens must obtain a permit from their local sheriff before acquiring a handgun. There is a lot of rhetoric bouncing around about this much as it did last time. Those who oppose it come up with all sorts of reasons to keep the requirement; mostly in the name of public safety. I guess I’m an anachronism because I believe public law should be based on facts and data. So let’s look at some of that.

First, the law’s original intent when enacted in 1911 had nothing to do with public safety. It was a Jim Crow law used by local law enforcement to keep blacks from obtaining handguns. It has evolved over the years to become a public safety issue. I have heard the argument that the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) does not contain data about restraining orders for domestic abuse or recent convictions for domestic violence. If it doesn’t then that is the fault of local law enforcement. All law enforcement agencies have the ability to input data into NICS. Not only that, are we saying North Carolina has more criminal cases of domestic violence than any other state in the southeast? Because we are the only state that requires a purchase permit for a handgun. That’s right, if you walk into a gun store in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, as long as you are a state resident (federal law) they will use NICS to do a background check. In fact, I believe that is all some counties in our state do anyway. I have seen county issued purchase permits that have the same alpha-numeric sequence that NICS gives me for a long gun purchase. I hope this provision stays but suspect it will again fall prey to the “public safety” naysayers.

Most of you probably saw the news report this past week about the massive trout kill at the Anderson fish hatchery in McDowell County. In an apparent act of vandalism, someone turned off the fresh water flow valve for the raceways killing nearly 150,000 trout. I am sure the WRC will do a thorough investigation and if it was vandalism track down the perpetrator and bring them to justice. So what does this mean for the trout season that just started? The WRC assures anglers that it will not affect the current stocking schedule. The fish that were killed were 4 – 10 inches long which means they are next year’s trout. They will have to scramble to buy stocking fish from neighboring states like Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee to meeting next year’s schedule. But rest assured you can fish to your heart’s content, and within creel limits, this year. Go fishing!

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