When it comes to controlling gun violence through handgun restrictions, The Empire State strikes out.
RALEIGH (June 1, 2015) – Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former mayor of New York City, has been spending some of his ample cash in North Carolina to oppose a bill, H.R. 562, that would shift North Carolina’s handgun background checks from a quaint, localized arrangement in current law to use of the FBI’s national background check system.
Currently under state law, a person wanting to purchase a handgun must apply to the county sheriff for a pistol purchase permit, and must “satisfy” the sheriff that he is of “good moral character.” The law also states that permits should be denied to those “who be too oft under the curse of rum, or in communication with witches and demons.”
OK, we made that last part up. But the point is that today, North Carolina sheriffs can lawfully refuse to grant a pistol purchase permit to nearly anyone, for next to no reason at all.
That may have made sense back in the 1880s or even in the 1960s, when Sheriff Andy Taylor knew everyone in Mayberry. But it certainly does not today. (Then again, even Sheriff Taylor knew the importance of due process.)
The United States has seen falling rates of gun violence since 1993, with gun-related deaths falling 39 percent and nonfatal gun crimes falling a whopping 69 percent. Meanwhile, gun sales are up while gun ownership is either steady or declining, depending on whom you ask.
North Carolina, which according to the antigun Brady Campaign already has an “F” rating on gun laws, is ranked 31st in gun murders per capita, with tranquil Vermont sitting at No. 1 and the murder-happy District of Columbia at 51. Bloomberg’s New York, meanwhile, sits at 26 on the list – just five spots from North Carolina – even though it sports an “A-” rating from Brady.
In case you’re wondering, the Brady Campaign did not include sanguine D.C. in its grading of gun laws, but Guns & Ammo ranked D.C. dead last in its “Best States for Gun Owners” feature in 2014. New York came in at number 50.
So is using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for handgun purchases, as most other states do, really the tragedy that Bloomberg would have us think it is? We think not.
So while we are usually happy to have New Yorkers come to North Carolina to unload some cash, they should leave their ineffective and freedom-diminishing regulations in the Empire State.