Thursday, July 13, 2023

Proposed Changes To North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permits


Modifications in the regulations surrounding concealed handgun permit (CHP) training in North Carolina have drawn scrutiny from the rights group, Grass Roots North Carolina. The group criticizes the NC DOJ Criminal Justice Standards Commission for devising changes without public consultation, alleging the changes are treated as a fait accompli, potentially infringing upon NC General Statutes.

The introduced obligation for instructors to submit a "Pre-Delivery Report" a month before a class and a "Post-Delivery Report" after the class will pose considerable obstacles for law-abiding citizens trying to get necessary training.

Over recent weeks, several North Carolina CHP instructors reached out to Grass Roots North Carolina, expressing their apprehensions over alterations proclaimed by the NC DOJ Criminal Justice Standards Commission. These changes might create significant hurdles for learners attempting to receive firearm training for CHPs.

Grass Roots North Carolina, the leading gun rights organization in the state, is against any amendment that complicates concealed carry, potentially heightening the risk of criminal attacks on individuals hindered from acquiring permits.

It's noteworthy that despite the commission arranging a public hearing for August 9th, 2023, the memo dispatched to CHP instructors on June 23 insinuates that these changes are already final, which could be a violation of NC General Statutes related to regulatory rule-making.

Here is the stance conveyed to Attorney General Josh Stein, whose NC Department of Justice is in charge of CHP administration. He is given until July 14, 2023, at 5:00 PM EDT to repeal or lessen these changes. Upon receiving his response (or possibly no response), we will start circulating GRNC alerts for remedial action.

[Letter's content]

Since 1994, I have been leading Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC), transforming it into the state's foremost Second Amendment organization.

In 1995, I played a crucial role in the creation and passing of our initial CHP law. From then, GRNC has been instrumental in pushing several measures such as concealed handgun reciprocity, legislation allowing CHP-holders to bypass purchase permits, Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground, and broadening concealed carry into various public spaces and, to a certain extent, educational properties. Our latest project was Senate Bill 41, which aimed to abolish our Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit law and extend concealed carry into churches that operate schools.

Of late, GRNC has been inundated with grievances from concealed handgun instructors concerning regulation changes emailed to many (but reportedly not all) instructors on June 23, 2023. The primary complaints include:

The public was not consulted before drafting the suggested changes. Despite the Criminal Justice Standards Division planning an August 9 public discussion on them, the June 23 communication from Bob Overton states, "These changes will take effect on October 1, 2023. Below is a summary of the changes that are being made by the Commission…” indicating that the changes outlined in the memo are unchangeable. While G.S. 150B-21.1 allows "temporary" rules, and 150B-21.1A "emergency" rules, both are statutorily permissible only when "adherence to the notice and hearing requirements of G.S. 150B-21.2 would be contrary to the public interest," among other conditions. It is hard to see how public input on purely administrative matters related to the timing and reporting of CHP courses could be considered "contrary to the public interest."

The stipulation that instructors need to submit a "Pre-Delivery Report" thirty (30) days before a class is a burdensome restriction that will make it noticeably harder for law-abiding citizens who desire concealed handgun permits to obtain the essential training.

The proposed "Post-Delivery Report" to be sent by instructors poses an additional challenge, especially for instructors who do not conduct training as their main occupation.

The obligation that instructors maintain a "roster" of students, including complete legal name and "contact information" signifies a privacy invasion for students who take the course but do not, for whatever reason, decide to apply for a concealed handgun permit. Given that the state keeps a database of concealed handgun applicants, this requirement seems superfluous. 

Given that the North Carolina Department of Justice Criminal Justice Standards Division and its director, Jeffrey Smythe, are under your supervision, GRNC holds you accountable for these severe changes.

As I believe you are aware, GRNC stands against any measure that makes it more challenging for law-abiding North Carolinians to protect themselves and their loved ones. Particularly, implementing the "Pre-Delivery Report" requirement will make it much harder to get training for a concealed handgun permit, almost definitely suppressing applications and leaving citizens vulnerable to violent crime.

Unless there is compelling evidence that changes to instructor protocols are needed, GRNC will perceive additional restrictions as an abuse of a regulatory agency to harass lawful gun owners, similar to how the Biden administration is misusing rulemaking and oversight authority via the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

As such, by 5:00 PM EDT on July 14, 2023 we require confirmation that proposed changes which burden concealed handgun instructors will be revoked or somehow lessened. Failure to comply will result in GRNC taking action up to and including petitioning the Republican supermajority in the NC General Assembly to make legislative changes to the concealed handgun certification process, as they have recently done with the NC State Board of Elections.

Armatissimi e liberissimi,*

F. Paul Valone

President, Grass Roots North Carolina

Executive Director, Rights Watch International

Radio host, Guns, Politics and Freedom

* First spoken by Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern power politics, in reference to the heavily armed and therefore unconquerable Swiss, Armatissimi e liberissimi means "most armed, most free." As a declaration of the importance of the right to bear arms to freedom, it is GRNC's credo.

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