Weapon permits: what’s the deal?

Published 8:42 am Thursday, August 15, 2013

WINTON – We’ve all seen the signs – no weapons allowed; no concealed weapons.

Meanwhile, some local municipalities have approved ordinances banning weapons – concealed or open carry, especially within public parks.

However, citizens without criminal records can legally purchase and, in some places carry a weapon by first purchasing a gun permit and concealed weapon permit. Hertford County Juan Vaughan explained the process.

“I’ve had feedback from concerned citizens asking the difference between the two and what the process is to receive a permit in Hertford County,” he said. “My hope is that through the publication of this newspaper article will bring about a better understanding of gun permits.”

Vaughan said permits to purchase handguns in North Carolina can be obtained from the county sheriff. The office hours in Winton to fill out a handgun purchase permit are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The cost is $5 per permit and you can purchase three permits from one application.

“Guns must be carried in plain view,” Vaughan stressed. “Guns must not be carried in a pocket, purse, under a car seat or in any other concealed manner unless you have a concealed handgun permit.”

The North Carolina General Assembly enacted a concealed handgun law that allows qualifying citizens of the state the opportunity to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. This law became effective on Dec. 1, 1995 and requires that the permit be secured from the sheriff of the permit holder’s county of residence.

“Gaining competency with firearms is like learning to drive a car or fly an airplane,” Vaughan stated. “You need expert instruction and practice. There is no shortcut. If you are not willing to invest the time and effort to become competent, then having a firearm and trying to use it can, in many instances, be more hazardous than any impending threat.”

Additionally, the storage of firearms and ammunition presents a unique responsibility.

“Children may see weapons as toys, and thieves view them as a tool for crime or an item that can be sold for quick profit. Keep all firearms locked away in a secure place,” Vaughan noted.

Handgun permit requirements require an applicant to be a years of age; have attained at least one month’s residency in Hertford County; and provide a valid driver’s license or other picture ID with current address provided by the state of North Carolina.

A criminal background check must be performed before granting of permit.

A permit to purchase a handgun is valid for a period of five years from date of issue.

The requirements for applying for a concealed handgun permit are the person must be at least 21 years of age; be a resident of Hertford County and a resident of North Carolina for at least 30 days; be a citizen or naturalized citizen of the United States of America; not suffer from any mental or physical infirmity which would prevent safe handgun handling and operation; provide a valid N.C. driver’s license or other picture ID with current address provided by the state of North Carolina; and successfully complete a firearms training and safety course that has been designed by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Standards Commission. This newspaper, in its Community Calendar on page 2A, regularly publishes a listing of those offering such training.

Vaughan said a criminal background check is performed on each applicant before granting the permit.

“The processing of a concealed carry weapons permit takes much longer than the handgun purchase permit,” Vaughan said. “I have 60 days from the time all application materials, to include receipt of the mental health records, are received to either issue or deny a permit, according to N.C. General Statute 14-415-15(a).”

Anyone interested in applying for a concealed carry weapon permit must come to Hertford County Sheriff’s Office to fill out application. Vaughan stressed to please make sure you have the following information available.

NC driver’s license number

NC Firearms Training Certificate

Applicant must apply in person and have a verifiable training certificate and a valid picture ID in hand (NC driver’s license or other picture ID with current address provided by the state of North Carolina).

A concealed weapon permit requires a $90 non-refundable fee (which includes a $10 fingerprint fee) payable by cash, money order or personal check.

“If paying with cash, please bring exact amount since we have very little cash on hand,” said Vaughan. “In addition to the application fee of $90 you will receive an invoice from Healthport or another vendor for Presbyterian Hospital in the amount of $10 which is independent of the fees charged by the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office in accordance with North Carolina General Statues. This charge is assessed by East Carolina Behavioral to conduct a health care facility search for your carry concealed weapon application.  The Hertford County Sheriff’s Office has no control of East Carolina Behavioral or any other facility charging for their services.”

In some cases, the system of checks and balances in place will deem an applicant ineligible for a concealed handgun permit. Ineligibility is caused by a person being  found guilty or received a prayer for judgment continued or suspended sentence for any crimes of violence or misdemeanor assaults as defined by General Statutes; under indictment or against whom a finding of probable cause exists for a felony; found guilty in any court for a felony; who is a fugitive from justice; who is an unlawful user of or addicted to illegal drugs; discharged from the armed forces for other than honorable reasons; who has been ruled mentally ill; ineligible to own, possess or receive a firearm under the provisions of state or federal law; free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal or sentencing for a crime; and/or convicted of an impaired driving offense within three years prior to application date.

Even after receiving a concealed handgun permit, the holder is required by law to notify the Sheriff issuing the permit of any change of address within 30 days of the change. This must be done in person at the agency that is the holder of the record. Please make sure you bring your driver’s license and concealed permit with you when changing your address.

Other regulations include:

You may not carry a concealed handgun while consuming or after having consumed alcohol or other controlled substance which alters judgment or physical control.

Handgun may be concealed in purse or pocket.

Permit and a valid North Carolina issued picture ID must be on your person when carrying a concealed handgun.

You must tell any approaching law enforcement officer that you are carrying a concealed handgun.

Failure to carry permit or to notify approaching law enforcement officer is an infraction for the first offense, a misdemeanor in subsequent instances.

Permits can be revoked for lying on application, lending your permit to another person or being charged with a crime.

Renewing of concealed handgun permits require that if a permit expires, an individual may not carry his or her weapon concealed until a new application has been approved and issued.

The renewal process will be similar to the original application except the Sheriff has waived the necessity for existing permit holders to re-take the firearms safety course.  However, if a permit holder allows a permit to expire, he or she will be treated as a new applicant and will be required to take the firearms safety class again.

Applicants will fill out a concealed handgun renewal form, sign a notarized affidavit stating they remain qualified under the concealed handgun law, sign mental health release forms and pay a non-refundable renewal fee of $75 payable only in cash, money order or personal check.

An applicant also must bring to the appointment a valid picture ID (NC driver’s license or other picture ID with current address provided by the state of North Carolina).

Once issued, the permit is valid throughout the state for a period of five years, unless it is revoked.

In closing, Vaughan wanted to take the opportunity to list a few gun safety tips, especially for adults with children residing in their homes. Those tips include:

If you keep a handgun in your home, always keep it unloaded and locked up.

Always lock and store bullets separately from your gun. Young children can figure out how to load a gun.

Keep a gun lock on your gun after it is unloaded. Gun locks are excellent devices when used in combination with other safety habits. Gun locks can provide a false sense of security. All it takes is forgetting to lock a gun just one time, or leaving the key where a child can find it. Always be diligent when using a gun lock. Always double check to make sure that it is locked at all times.

Make sure children don’t have access to the keys to gun locks and gun and ammunition storage areas.

Even if you don’t own a gun, talk with your children about the danger of guns and what to do if they find one while playing or at a friend’s house.

Explain to your children that guns are dangerous and that they should never touch them.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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