My Turn by Isaac Doyal: Handgun policy hinders law-abiding citizens
Like many Americans, I enjoy my freedom to own firearms for self-defense, hunting and the joy of shooting. Growing up on a farm in Oklahoma, hunting and shooting were activities I enjoyed my entire life, and guns were bought, traded and passed down between family and friends.
I moved to North Carolina 10-plus years ago, and both of my children were born here. We have been in Salisbury for over a year now. I recently decided to purchase a handgun for my wife and me, as well as a couple of small caliber rifles for my children to start learning how to handle and shoot guns responsibly. I investigated N.C. gun laws and realized I could buy a rifle without purchasing a permit and the dealer would perform the background check on me at their location. However, to purchase a handgun I must go to my local sheriff’s department and purchase a permit allowing me to buy the gun.
At a time when gun control is such a hot topic, all states need to take another look at their gun policies to ensure they are in line with the true spirit of the Second Amendment our Founding Fathers established. We have seen some horrible events take place in this country, which has sparked the gun controversy once again. Yet the Constitution grants all Americans “the right to keep and bear arms and this right shall not be infringed.” So how should North Carolina handle this extremely emotional issue?
After thinking about this process, I really was bothered that I, as a law-abiding citizen, would have to pay the county in order to exercise my constitutional right. I’m not claiming I or anyone else should not go through a background check to ensure we are not criminals or dangerous people. I’m simply suggesting we should not be required to pay for the ability to purchase a handgun. The cost of the permit is inexpensive, but I feel this is unnecessary for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is we as Americans should not have to pay to have the ability to purchase anything. We already pay sales, state and federal income taxes. The second reason is I feel the county personnel could spend their time on other issues and allow the dealers who already run background checks on all other weapons to perform them on handguns. Why should North Carolina have this added level of unnecessary bureaucracy in place to cover handguns specifically?
The biggest problem with obtaining this permit is the process itself. After filling out the form at my local sheriff’s office in Salisbury to clear the “mental health” portion of the background check, it was notarized and submitted to the staff. I was told it would take 10 days to get approved or denied. I thought 10 days was a lengthy time to run a simple background check that dealers in other states do in a matter of minutes. However, I was willing to wait because obtaining the weapon was not a dire situation. Twenty-five days later, I received my approval after making several calls to check the status of my permit.
What if my family was in immediate danger and decided we needed a handgun to protect ourselves? Of course, if in that situation we would have contacted the local police department about any such threat or concern, but where we live it would be highly unlikely officers would arrive in time if there were actually an incident. Should we have to wait 25 days to buy a handgun?
I feel the policy in states like Georgia, which allow their licensed dealers to provide the federal background check at their businesses, would make a lot more sense. It would free up our local sheriff’s departments to work on more important concerns within their county, such as fighting crime. It would allow citizens to legally purchase a handgun from a local licensed dealer without having to wait extremely long periods of time, which in some cases could actually put them in danger. We all know criminals do not wait to legally obtain a weapon used to commit crimes. Let the local licensed dealer perform the checks required by the ATF and it will free up our local officials to more efficiently run their county.
Isaac Doyal lives in Salisbury.
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