Last week, the North Carolina Senate passed House Bill 562, an omnibus pro-gun reform bill which will modify multiple North Carolina gun laws if approved by Governor McCrory.
Currently, certain gun applications procedures—such as those implemented to obtain certain NFA items, like suppressors—require the signature of a Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO). Individuals who rely on a CLEO’s signature have little recourse if the officer decides not to sign-off or delays processing. An appeals process is in place, but this lengthens an already time-intensive process. (As of this writing, individuals who use gun trusts to acquire firearms bypass the CLEO sign-off requirement. Learn about pending federal gun trust regulations that could change this procedure.) One of the provisions in House Bill 562 includes a requirement that CLEOs complete certifications within 15 days. The new language could help processing times that have grown longer in the past few years as gun permit applications rise across the state.
Hunters will enjoy more flexibility under another provision of the bill: Legally possessed short-barreled rifles will no longer be prohibited for hunting purposes in North Carolina. Legal conflicts might develop among hunters who lend a firearm to a friend or family member. Sharing or borrowing guns without proper paperwork is a felony and the consequences could be equally severe even if the act was unintentional. A benefit of using a gun trust is that authorized users of firearms can be included in trust documents, and these documents can be modified at any time. Responsibly managing firearms in this way can help prevent individuals from committing accidental felonies that could possibly result in jail time or six-figure fines.
Pistol permit applications will follow a uniform process under the bill’s provisions. The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association and the State Bureau of Investigation will jointly prepare a new streamlined permit. The new provisions also prevent sheriffs from taking into account the applicant’s background more than five years prior to their permit application date.
The legislation is not entirely favorable to gun owners, however, and several amendments will ultimately restrict the possession of firearms by North Carolina residents. For one, the Bill grants the Commission of Agriculture the right to ban individuals with concealed carry permits from carrying concealed weapons on the state fairgrounds during the North Carolina State Fair. Secondly, the Bill provisions clarify legal concealed carry practices for locked and unlocked cars.
Read the full text of House Bill 562 The Act to Amend Various Firearms Laws.
By Attorney Gregory Herman-Giddens