GRNC Lawsuit Against Sheriff Baker Makes The News

The lawsuit GRNC has brought against Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker has caught the attention of local news stations. CBS 17 News of Raleigh did a report yesterday on Moore v. Baker and interviewed Marc Erickson of GRNC. The lawsuit is over Sheriff Baker dragging his feet in the processing of pistol purchase permits. It is taking over 2 months to process them when state law only allows 14 days. Sheriff Baker is still using the tired excuse of “it’s the pandemic”.

As Marc made clear, a right delayed is a right denied. The pistol purchase permit is superfluous given the NICS System but North Carolina sheriffs claim they know people in their county better. That might be true in eastern NC’s Tyrrell County – population 4,016. It certainly is not true in Wake County population 1,111,761. Wake, by the way, has now officially surpassed Mecklenburg as the largest county by population in North Carolina.

GRNC Sues Wake County Sheriff Baker…Again

Grass Roots North Carolina is suing Wake County (NC) Sheriff Gerald Baker again for unlawful delays in issuing pistol purchase permits as well as concealed handgun permits. The suit is filed in Wake County Superior Court. GRNC is the institutional plaintiff while Wanda Kaye Moore is the lead plaintiff. The lawsuit seeks an emergency temporary restraining order preventing Sheriff Baker from causing any more delays.

The Wake County Sheriff’s Department is forcing applicants for a pistol purchase permit to make an appointment to submit their mental health release. They refuse to take it by mail or online even though state law mandates application for these permits be online.

More on this in the release from GRNC:

[Raleigh] In recent weeks, GRNC’s office has been flooded with complaints from people who want to buy handguns for protection against riots spreading across the country but are unable to do so because Sheriff Gerald Baker refuses to process pistol purchase permits within the 14 days required by law, effectively denying citizens their right to keep and bear arms.

Said Grass Roots North Carolina president Paul Valone: 

“In what is now the third lawsuit filed against Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker over his refusal to follow state law regarding issuing handgun permits, Grass Roots North Carolina intends to ensure citizens’ rights are respected. Sheriff Baker seems to think he is above the law. Grass Roots North Carolina intends to prove otherwise. Since Baker doesn’t seem to be getting the message, we will deliver it loud and clear. We are also holding Wake County responsible for its refusal to stop Baker’s continued malfeasance.”

Link to suit: https://www.grnc.org/baker_complaint 

In response to GRNC’s notice of non-compliance, sent to Baker’s counsel on July 15, attorney Nick Ellis claimed that Baker is doing an “excellent” job of processing pistol purchase permit applications, despite the fact that:

  • Baker is clearly violating G.S. §14-404(f): The statute requires sheriffs to issue or deny NC pistol purchase permits in 14 days, further stipulating that applications may only be denied or statutorily permissible reasons. In truth, applications, if they are being processed at all, are taking nearly two months
  • Baker is trying to circumvent state law by arguing that the requisite 14 day issuing period doesn’t start until his office decides to allow a citizen to come in to his office to finish the application begun online, effectively claiming the power to deny citizens’ rights indefinitely.
  • North Carolinians are being denied their rights: It is unlawful for citizens to buy handguns without either a pistol purchase permit or concealed handgun permit from their county of residence, meaning that Baker’s actions are denying citizens’ rights not only to keep and bear arms, but to protect their families at a time of national crisis when personal safety is very much in question.
  • Reports indicate the Wake County Sheriff is non-responsive: Email queries on permit applications are reportedly being ignored as phone calls to the department go unanswered. Reports also suggest that Baker has limited the number of hours during which Wake County sheriff’s employees may process applications, as department representatives have become hostile to frustrated applicants.
  • Baker may be thumbing his nose at the law: Despite a consent decree requiring him to issue handgun permits, Baker appears to be dragging his feet in order to issue the minimum possible number of permits, clearly defying the decree.
  • Wake County may be liable: Under the Supreme Court decision in Monell v. Department of Soc. Svcs., Wake County may also be liable for its refusal to stop Baker’s malfeasance. 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Tweet Of The Day

The tweet of the day comes from my good friend Prof. David Yamane who writes the excellent Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

As the late Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “A right delayed is a right denied.”

GRNC Alert On Sheriff Baker’s Illegal Actions

Grass Roots North Carolina issued an alert this evening asking people to contact the Wake County Sheriff’s Department concerning the suspension of accepting applications.

From what I understand, GRNC is also considering legal action in light of this violation of state law.

From GRNC:

Sheriff Baker: No Guns for You
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Sheriff Baker is at it again. On Tuesday, March 24th, Baker announced that the Wake County Sheriffs Office will no longer be accepting applications for Pistol Purchase Permits or Concealed Handgun Permits. Under the guise of public safety, he is stripping away the one constitutional right that allows the men and women of North Carolina to keep themselves and their families safe.

Nothing under the NC Emergency Management Act gives the sheriff additional powers to restrict pistol purchase permits or concealed handgun permits during a declared state of emergency. The statute is quite clear that he has 14 days to issue or deny purchase permits, and nothing allows him to deny permits because he feels his office is too inundated with applications.

While some sheriffs have said they don’t want the public health risk of taking fingerprints for new CHPs, nothing should restrict applications for CHP renewals or PPPs.

GRNC will be calling for the repeal of the full Pistol Purchase Permit statute, as this lays bare the real reason sheriffs have lobbied to keep this leftover Jim Crow era law on the books. It gives them the power to arbitrarily deny firearms to citizens.

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED!


Email Sheriff Baker at and let him know that his actions are putting lives at risk
: http://services.wakegov.com/SheriffMainContactForm/index.html


Call his office and repeat this message, we cannot let up: 919-856-6900


PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO GRNC
: Help us fight gun control while we promote Second Amendment principles. Please CLICK HERE to contribute. Bear in mind that GRNC is an all-volunteer organization, so you can be sure your donations are put to the best possible use. Any amount helps, and any amount is appreciated.

CONTACT INFO
 
http://services.wakegov.com/SheriffMainContactForm/index.html


919-856-6900

 
DELIVER THIS MESSAGE


Suggested Subject: “Permit Suspension”  

 
Dear : Sheriff Gerald M. Baker

 
Your actions on March 24th are a direct violation of your oath of office, and are not outlined in the NC Emergency Management Act. By law, you must approve or deny permits within 14 days. I call on you to immediately restore services to Wake county for pistol purchase and concealed handgun permits.
 
Respectfully,

Illegal Action By Wake County Sheriff

Sheriff Gerald Baker, Sheriff of Wake County, has unilaterally suspended taking new applications for pistol purchase permits and NC Concealed Handgun Permits through April 30th. Current applications will continue to be processed.

From the News and Observer:

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office will suspend pistol and concealed-carry permit applications until April 30 as demand surges amid the coronavirus outbreak, Sheriff Gerald Baker announced Tuesday.

Applications that have already been submitted will continue to be processed, Baker said during a press briefing.

Pistol permit applications last week averaged 290 per day, or more than three times the roughly 90 applications per day during the same time period a year ago, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Baker said his office needs time to manage the backlog.

WRAL covered the press briefing and you can see it below. Sheriff Baker’s statement regarding pistol purchase permits and NC CHPs begins at the 5:15 mark.

Sheriff Baker has the gall to say that “it is not an emergency situation.” Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) declared a state of emergency days ago. Tons of businesses have been ordered to stay closed. The largest county in North Carolina just issued a shelter in place order and the sheriff of the second largest county says it isn’t an emergency situation. Protecting yourself and your family during a time of crisis is always an emergency situation if you don’t have the means to do it.

While Sheriff Baker may think he has the power to unilaterally suspend taking applications, state law says otherwise.

§ 14-403 of the NC General Statutes says in part:

The sheriffs of any and all counties of this State shall issue to any person, firm, or corporation in any county a permit to purchase or receive any weapon mentioned in this Article from any person, firm, or corporation offering to sell or dispose of the weapon.

§ 14-404. f. goes on to say that the sheriff after doing the requisite background check has a limited time to deny or issue the permit.

Each applicant for a license or permit shall be informed by the sheriff within 14 days of the date of the application whether the license or permit will be granted or denied and, if granted, the license or permit shall be immediately issued to the applicant.

Nothing says a sheriff can suspend taking applications because “we are too busy.”

State Senators Warren Daniel (R-Burke) and Danny Britt (R-Robeson) issued a statement condemning Baker’s actions.

State law requires a sheriff to approve or reject a pistol permit within 14 days.

Sheriff Baker must immediately rescind his illegal decision to halt the sale of pistols in Wake County

People are already suspicious and on edge. It’s reckless to illegally suspend their Second Amendment rights just when they need assurance that they can trust government.

We will also be urging our colleagues in the legislature to take action during the short session to address this illegal behavior.

Justice Scalia in the Heller decision noted that “the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon.” Sheriff Baker’s unilateral decision runs afoul of court precedent as well as of black letter North Carolina law.

The NRA-ILA was quick off the mark with an alert about Sheriff Baker’s actions. It can be seen here.