North Carolina residents can now buy a handgun without getting a permit from a local sheriff, after the Republican-controlled state legislature on Wednesday overrode the Democratic governor’s veto — a first since 2018.
The House voted 71-46 to enact the bill, which eliminates the longstanding permit system requiring sheriffs to perform character evaluations and criminal history checks of pistol applicants. The Senate overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto in a party-line vote on Tuesday.
The permit repeal takes effect immediately. Cooper and Democratic lawmakers warned it allows more dangerous people to obtain weapons through private sales, which do not require a background check, and limits law enforcement’s ability to prevent them from committing violent crimes.
But bill supporters say the sheriff screening process is no longer necessary in light of significant updates to the national background check system, and that the permit requirement didn’t serve as a crime deterrent.
Although Republican seat gains in the midterm elections gave them veto-proof margins in the Senate, they were one seat shy of a similar majority in the House.
Wednesday’s House vote tally showed three Democrats failed to vote on the override, creating enough of a margin to meet the constitutional requirement.
Republicans needed at least one Democratic member to join them, or as few as two Democrats not to vote.
The enacted bill also would allow guns on some school properties where religious services are held.
In 2021, Cooper successfully blocked standalone bills that separately contained the pistol purchase permit repeal and the ability for some congregants to carry their weapon at church services held at private schools. At that time, Democrats had enough seats to block any override attempt if they stayed united.