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.