Robbie Perkins and Bill Bell: Repealing handgun purchase permits dangerous

June 28, 2013 

Repealing handgun purchase permits dangerous

The legislature is jeopardizing the well-being and safety of our communities by considering a bill to make it easy for convicted criminals to buy deadly weapons.

House Bill 937 would repeal handgun purchase permits in the state and eliminate background checks on private handgun sales, a vital line of defense for protecting public safety. The N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police and the N.C. Sheriffs’ Association oppose this provision because the current system makes sure that felons and domestic abusers don’t have easy access to handguns. Advocates fighting to protect women from domestic violence know that this bill would put families at risk.

The Second Amendment is an important part of who we are. At the same time, we can all agree that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill shouldn’t have access to guns. Screening gun purchasers with background checks has broad support from gun owners, law enforcement, NRA members and advocates for sensible gun laws alike.

In fact, a 2012 poll by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 82 percent of gun owners – including 74 percent of NRA members – support background checks for gun sales. Background checks don’t infringe upon our rights as law-abiding gun owners, but they do help keep dangerous people from getting firearms.

North Carolina’s cities are exposed to enough gun violence already – over 400 North Carolina residents are shot and killed each year with guns. The last thing we need is for our legislators to open up a giant loophole in state gun law – a loophole designed to increase access to guns for the individuals who shouldn’t have them.

We need look only to Missouri, which did something identical to what’s being proposed under HB 937. The repeal of its handgun purchase permit system in 2007 produced devastating results that stand as a warning. In the years immediately after the repeal, Missouri saw a 25 percent spike in gun homicides, a 25 percent rise in the share of “crime guns” purchased in-state and a 113 percent increase in the share of trafficked guns.

Just days ago in Greenville, Lakim Anthony Faust opened fire with his shotgun in a Walmart parking lot, wounding four innocent people. The shooter’s application for a handgun permit was rejected by his local sheriff’s office, but he was able to arm himself by purchasing a shotgun, which does not require a permit.

As a Republican and a Democrat, we know protecting public safety and reducing gun violence is not a partisan issue; it’s about keeping our families and communities safe. We urge Gov Pat McCrory and state lawmakers to listen to the 90 percent of North Carolinians who support comprehensive background checks and law enforcement members across the state who oppose the repeal of background checks on handgun sales.

Robbie Perkins

Mayor, Greensboro

Bill Bell

Mayor, Durham

The length limit was waived to permit a fuller discussion of the issue.

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