Under the Dome

Gun control talk echoes in statehouse halls Tuesday

Lots of gun talk around the statehouse on Tuesday.

The morning began with authorized display booths staffed by two groups with opposing views on gun control: the gun rights Grass Roots N.C. and the gun-control Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

At least they put them at opposite ends of the building.

Both groups showed up with dozens of members to visit lawmakers to urge action on Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer’s House Bill 562, which has languished without consideration for more than a month. Among other proposals, the bill would do away with the current system of county sheriffs issuing handgun permits.

Republican legislators reportedly held a caucus discussion on it during the day, which resulted in scheduling a Rules Committee meeting Wednesday morning to take it up again.

Also Tuesday, the mayors of 10 North Carolina cities signed a letter to legislative leaders asking them to defeat the bill. The letter includes data that indicates sheriffs in the state’s six most populous counties denied 3,405 permits last year.

The letter is signed by the mayors of large and small cities across the state: Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Creedmoor, Durham, Hillsborough, Huntersville, Oxford, Ronda and Winston-Salem.

Grass Roots N.C. has been trying to get rid of the sheriffs’ pistol permit system for some time because sheriffs handle applications inconsistently. They contend the system was put into place during the Jim Crow era in order to deny issuing handgun permits to black applicants.

Schaffer, a Charlotte Republican, says the federal background system is a more reliable method of handing handgun purchases.

The sheriffs association opposes the bill, noting that the federal system only applies to purchases from licensed dealers, and that only the sheriffs conduct background checks on private or online sales.

The bill survived the crossover deadline when a financial element was added at the last minute.