NC legislature overrides Gov. Cooper’s veto, pistol purchase permits repealed

The NC General Assembly overrode Gov. Cooper's veto of a pistol purchase permit bill.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:08 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Republicans, and one democrat in the North Carolina General Assembly defeated Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 41 which does away with NC’s pistol purchase permit requirements, among other things.

The bill passed both the NC House and the NC Senate in March and presented it to Cooper, giving him 10 days to sign it, veto it, or do nothing and let the bill become law without his signature. On day seven Cooper vetoed the bill but on Wednesday morning the NC House voted 71-46 to override that veto.

Republicans in the NC Senate already maintains a supermajority giving them the votes needed to override vetoes --- but the Republicans in the NC House fell one member short of a supermajority in 2022.

With three democrats supporting the bill before sending it to Cooper’s desk for his approval Republicans needed a vote from a Democrat in support of the bill, or abstentions on the vote itself. On Wednesday three Democrats, including Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County, did not vote giving Republicans the votes they needed to override the veto.

After the vote, Cotham issued a statement to WBTV explaining her reasoning for missing the vote.

“I have been open about being a COVID long hauler and was receiving scheduled hospital treatment this morning,” she said in the statement. “I’m continuing to recover for the remainder of the day. Both sides were aware that I was unable to attend the vote, which wouldn’t have changed the unfortunate outcome. I do not and have not supported the dangerous repeal of pistol purchase permits, which I have voted against previously.”

This means that North Carolina will no longer require those looking to purchase a handgun get a purchase permit from their local sheriff before doing so.

NC Attorney General Josh Stein issued a statement Wednesday morning following the override saying the move is a mistake and will put people at risk.

“Today’s move by the General Assembly to repeal our pistol permit law has made our communities less safe. Now, dangerous people – like violent criminals and domestic abusers – will be able to more easily get their hands on guns,” Stein said.

Mecklenburg County Sheriff Gary McFadden also released a statement, which reads as follows:

“I am disappointed that the North Carolina General Assembly has decided to override Governor Cooper’s veto. As sheriff of one of the largest counties in the state I am also disappointed that several lawmakers never afforded me the privilege to voice my concerns about SB41. I fully support the second amendment, but I believe removing local sheriff’s offices from the approval process puts our communities in danger for the sake of convenience. Although I may not agree with this decision, as Sheriff I will abide by all laws as I was elected to do.”

Supporters of the bill said the pistol purchase permit system is redundant since federal background checks are already required and many of the checks in place are what the state requires. The state law does go further than federal law does and allows a sheriff to deny a pistol permit if they determine the applicant is not of ‘good moral character.’

On Wednesday morning Mecklenburg County Rep. Wesley Harris (D-105) Tweeted out his thoughts on the override condemning the move that happened without debate.

“The NCGOP just rammed through an override of the Governor’s veto without ANY debate—all to make it easier to get your hands on a gun less than 48 hours after a major school shooting. Sickening doesn’t even begin to describe this complete subversion of representative democracy,” Harris said.

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