Grass Roots North Carolina, the state’s primary gun rights advocacy group, launched a radio ad campaign Tuesday to support a handgun bill in the state legislature in an attempt to counter a statewide TV ad campaign against the bill that is backed by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The TV ad by national gun-control groups Gun Safety Action and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America claims that House Bill 562 would abolish gun purchase background checks in North Carolina.
House Bill 562 would expand the places where people with permits to carry concealed handguns could bring their weapons, including the state fairgrounds in Raleigh. It would also prohibit health-care providers from disclosing to government agencies if a patient says they lawfully have a weapon, unless the patient is mentally ill.
It would also loosen restrictions on prosecutors, hunters, and on possessing guns on school grounds.
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Grass Roots NC said the radio ads will air in Raleigh and Charlotte and they feature mothers explaining the merits of the bill. A common refrain: “Michael Bloomberg doesn’t speak for me.”
Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone said his organization sees flaws in North Carolina’s handgun purchase permit background check.
Currently, a county sheriff conducts a background check and issues a handgun purchase permit that must be shown at the time of purchase by the buyer to legally obtain a gun. The purchase permit is valid up to five years.
“It’s entirely plausible that someone could get one of theses permits, go out and commit a crime, be disqualified from owning a firearm, yet use that permit (later) to bypass the national computerized background check system,” Valone said.
The state Sheriff’s Association is concerned about a part of the bill that would repeal the current system and replace it with a national background check.
The association’s general counsel, Eddie Caldwell, said that a sheriff has access to a broader scope of information that might disqualify a potential candidate from obtaining a purchase permit that a national check would not catch, including misdemeanor convictions if the defendant was not fingerprinted and disqualifying misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, such as simple assault, assault on a female and stalking.
The national check would not catch any pending charges or outstanding warrants either, but a sheriff would include that in a background check, Caldwell said.
Valone said using the federal system would unify the 100 sheriffs in North Carolina. Some require notarized character references, he said, and others that do not.
However, Caldwell said that “the statute sets out very clearly who should be denied and who should be allowed a permit. The law applies to all 100 counties equally.”