passage of HB 562 last year, which included removal of several
burdensome pistol purchase permit (PPP) application requirements,
legislators attempted to standardize what were then widely variable
permit formats. The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) managed
to slip into the bill a requirement that mental health forms be sent to
Clerks of Superior Court to certify the applicant has no history of
mental incompetence (involuntary commitment, insanity defense, etc). The
ostensible reason for the form is that older records are not digitized,
but rather stored on microfiche.
Although sheriffs are now required to issue purchase permits in 14 days,
urban counties are flouting the law, claiming that due to the large
influx of gun permit applications after the San Bernardino attack,
clerks of court are unable to keep up with manually researching
involuntary commitment records. Sheriffs are refusing to issue permits
until the form comes back from the clerk of court, claiming a “better
safe than sorry” policy in exceeding the 14 day limit. In Mecklenburg
County and elsewhere, applicants are being stalled for 60 to 90 days.
Enter NRA lobbyist Anthony Roulette and a clandestine meeting to “solve”
the problem. Among those at the meeting were Roulette, Representative
Allen McNeill (a former Deputy Sheriff with strong ties to NC Sheriffs’
Association or NCSA), NCSA Executive Director Eddie Caldwell,
representatives of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), and
Dennis Allen, who represented the NC Rifle & Pistol Association
(NCRPA), the state NRA affiliate.
absent from the meeting were any representatives from Grass Roots North
Carolina (GRNC). And why were we absent, you ask? Perhaps it was
because Caldwell, whose long history of featherbedding his $330,000
salary and turning sheriffs against gun owners has drawn fire from GRNC,
reportedly quipped that if GRNC attended, he would not. Or perhaps it
was at the behest of Roulette who, when asked by AOC personnel why GRNC
was not present, reportedly responded that we were “unavailable.”
likely, Roulette and Caldwell colluded to exclude GRNC just as they
have colluded to undermine gun owners in the past. However you choose to
interpret it, the state’s largest and most effective gun rights
organization was deliberately excluded.
the apparent result of this cozy little tête-à-tête, Rep. McNeill
slipped $250,000 into the massive House budget bill to allow the AOC to
begin digitizing involuntary commitment records. So now, everybody is
happy: Roulette gets to say he did something, Caldwell’s sheriffs get
more access to ancient mental health records (to deny permits to more
people, of course), and AOC gets $250,000.
gets something…except you. You see, urban clerks of court aren’t
delaying purchase permit applications solely due to lack of resources;
some anti-gun bureaucrats are using the new form as an excuse to vex gun
owners. Throwing money at them will accomplish nothing. It is highly
probable that application delays will continue and, as you know, a right
delayed is a right denied.
the past few weeks, GRNC has been working behind the scenes, pushing a
plan to have records digitized by a certain date and then, once
complete, to have the release form being sent to clerks of court simply
disappear. Unfortunately, the Senate seems unlikely to add the measure,
meaning we will take the fight to a “conference committee,” comprised of
representatives from both the NC House and Senate, where differences
between House and Senate versions of the budget will be resolved.