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Giffords Condemns Introduction of North Carolina Bill to Repeal State Permitting System

Washington, DC — Despite the fact that North Carolina has some of the weakest firearm restrictions in the nation, today the North Carolina House of Representatives passed H398 out of the House Rules Committee in an attempt to make their state’s laws even worse. H398, which would eliminate the state’s pistol purchase permit (PPP) and background checks on private sales of handguns, will next be heard on the House Floor. Giffords, the gun violence prevention group led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, denounces this dangerous step towards a repeal.

“North Carolina is lagging behind other states when it comes to gun safety, but rather than passing stronger laws to protect its citizens, lawmakers there are trying to eliminate what few laws they do have,” said Giffords Senior Counsel Allison Anderman. “We know that permit to purchase laws are extremely effective at reducing gun suicide and homicide rates, and that these rates increase when permitting laws are repealed. Rather than throw out an effective law, the state should strengthen it by having it apply to all firearms, not just handguns.” 

Proponents of the bill say the permit is unnecessary because the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is stronger than it was in previous years. This argument is senseless given that the bill would eliminate the background check requirement for unlicensed handgun sales altogether, not replace it with a NICS check. Furthermore, the types of background checks used to issue a PPP in North Carolina are superior to a NICS-only check. They give investigators access to state-level arrest and other data, helping them make a more accurate determination of whether someone is legally able to purchase a firearm.

North Carolina’s current PPP system requires that an individual seeking to purchase or receive a handgun must obtain a permit issued by the county sheriff. This process ensures that guns are purchased by responsible gun owners while denying weapons to applicants who fall into certain categories of prohibited persons. By repealing the permit program, North Carolina would no longer require people buying handguns from unlicensed sellers to undergo a background check, as only licensed firearm dealers will have to conduct them on gun buyers.

North Carolina received a D on Giffords Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard due to its weak gun laws. As the state lacks other crucial gun safety protections such as assault weapon regulations and open carry restrictions, the PPP system is a critical safeguard for ensuring guns end up in responsible hands. With this potential repeal, North Carolina legislators are putting even more lives at risk. 


Giffords is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Giffords shifts culture, changes policies, and challenges injustice, inspiring Americans across the country to fight gun violence.