Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey is one of the North Carolina sheriffs who is determined to retain the state’s racist, Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit system. In an interview given to WCNC-TV of Charlotte, Sheriff Bailey contends that the pistol purchase permit system would have prevented the shooters in Tucson, Virginia Tech, and Aurora from obtaining their pistols.
Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey said that he agrees with every law-abiding citizen’s right to own firearms, but says he wants the state to continue to allow his office the right to dispense permits, because of the NICS system does not catch all mental health issues.
“We also check our transport logs for involuntary commits and those kinds of things which wouldn’t be picked up by NICS or some other device.” Sheriff Bailey said, “I think it’s important for us to know who is being permitted for firearms or who is going out to buy firearms…until the process gets where you can really count on it, then I think the sheriff’s need to be involved with it.”
There is only one little flaw in Sheriff Bailey’s argument. Once the permit which is good for five years is issued, it can’t be revoked. It also substitutes for the NICS check. Thus, a person who based a background check up to five years ago can take their permit to a FFL, present their permit, buy a gun, and avoid the NICS check. If they have committed a felony, a misdemeanor involving domestic violence, or had been adjudicated mentally ill after being issued the permit, they could still obtain a firearm. I don’t think the fact that they would be committing a Federal felony by lying on the ATF Form 4473 would matter much to such a person.
The Charlotte Observer – Sheriff Bailey’s local paper – did an analysis on pistol purchase permits. It found more than 60 felons in Mecklenburg County alone held pistol purchase permits. A NICS check would have caught these felons when they tried to purchase a firearm.
Mecklenburg County is also lagging the state in the issuance of Concealed Handgun Permits according to the most recent data. As Sean points out here, something is a little fishy when Mecklenburg County has only seen a rise of 2.83% in new permits as compared to the statewide figure of 9.36%. Moreover, just slightly smaller Wake County has issued 4.5 times as many permits in the same time period.
I think Sheriff Bailey, despite his so-called support for the citizen’s right to own a firearm, has some explaining to do.