I hear some opponents of H562 saying it will end background checks for private pistol purchases in the form of a Pistol Purchase Permit if that system is eliminated. Currently NC FFLs use the NICS system for long gun purchases and a PPP for handguns. Those permits are issued by the Sheriff and are good for five years. When they are presented to a FFL no background check is required. What is missing from that system is if someone applies and is granted a PPP and years later still has it and is disqualified from ownership of a firearm by committing a criminal offense. Since they still have a valid (well technically no longer valid, but no one is checking) permit they can go buy a handgun without any issues. Better would be a NICS check which is instantaneous and should be up to date if the courts are reporting crimes to the FBI in a timely manner.

So back to handguns and private transactions. Currently to abide by the law the purchaser must have a PPP for the firearm or a CHP. If H562 passes that will no longer be a requirement. I can see readers squirming at that revelation, but no need. Currently for a long gun no background check is required, simply that the seller and purchaser both be from NC. Think about it for a minute, if someone is getting a PPP or a CHP to do a private transaction of a handgun they are doing their best to abide by the law. Those persons will still abide by the law and both parties will be from the same state. Who will not abide by the law? Criminals! They will conduct illegal transactions regardless of whether a PPP is required or not. If everyone was to have to go through a FFL they still would conduct illegal operations and transactions. The biggest fallacy of using a FFL for a firearm transaction is the firearm can be traced. Not so fast Dick Tracy, it doesn’t quite work like that in the US.

I put forth a scenario where a firearm is used in a crime and is recovered by police. They trace the serial number to the manufacturer and the manufacturer then can tell them which distributor or FFL received the firearm. So now they know the original destination. If the FFL is still in business they can check their book and tell who purchased the firearm. If the FFL is not in business the ATF will have to dig through their records to find out who received the firearm. So let’s use my first pistol as the one used in the criminal act. It is a Ruger so they would contact Ruger. Then they would find the FFL who sold the firearm. Since it was purchased 27 years ago at a gun show and even I don’t remember the name of the dealer we must assume they probably are no longer in business. They would dig through the records and find a rural route address which no longer exists so potentially a dead end. Perhaps back then a driver’s license was required or recorded and a SS#. (Today the SS# is optional, but a DL would be recorded in NC.) So assuming they have a DL they could locate me that way. I still have the firearm, but let’s assume I don’t and I sold it via FFLs to someone in Nevada. Now I tell them that information and the trail most likely goes ice cold. In essence there is no way to track the firearm and all you can do is find who the original owner is and perhaps what they did with the firearm. Transferring through a FFL may provide a background check at the time of transfer, but doesn’t solve any problem. People trying to adhere to the law and not commit crimes will do so, but criminals will never adhere to the laws because they just don’t care.

In the end getting rid of the PPP system would eliminate antiquated checks which require time and law enforcement resources and would allow NC residents to purchase firearms from a FFL with an instant and up to date NICS check. Private transactions by law-abiding citizens would still adhere to the law and criminals would still be criminals. What we should do, if anything, is make the penalties severe for conducting an illegal transaction. Our laws rarely deter, but at least when charges are filed the criminal will pay the price for their actions.