HB 623 Would Require Background Checks on All Firearm Sales; HB 525 Would Create an Extreme Risk Law in North Carolina
The North Carolina chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement applauding the introduction of HB 623 and HB 525, common-sense gun safety legislation which would close dangerous loopholes to ensure background checks on all gun sales and create an Extreme Risk law in North Carolina, and called on lawmakers to prioritize these bills over dangerous bills like HB 398, which would repeal North Carolina’s requirement that a person pass a criminal background check before purchasing any handgun. HB 398 advanced through the House Judiciary 4 Committee Tuesday.
“These common-sense gun safety bills are exactly how our lawmakers should be responding to the gun violence epidemic which has persisted unabated throughout the pandemic,” said Tony Cope, a volunteer with North Carolina Moms Demand Action. “Instead of making it easier for convicted felons and domestic abusers to buy handguns with no background check and no questions asked, our lawmakers should prioritize these two pieces of lifesaving legislation.”
“There’s no reason why anyone should be allowed to buy a rifle or shotgun without a criminal background check,” said Rep. Julie von Haefen, who introduced HB 623. “This bill would close this dangerous loophole, keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other people who shouldn’t have guns, and save lives.”
“We have a real opportunity to save lives this session by passing HB 525, which would give loved ones and law enforcement the tools they need to temporarily remove access to firearms from people in crisis,” said Rep. Marcia Morey, who introduced HB 525. “Instead of allowing people to buy handguns from unlicensed sellers without a background check, our colleagues should focus on lifesaving bills like HB 525 and HB 623.”
HB 623 would close a loophole that currently exists, that allows a person to buy a rifle or shotgun from an unlicensed seller, including at a gun show or a person they meet through websites like Armslist.com, without a background check. HB 623 would require a person to obtain a background check before purchasing any firearm, no matter whom it is purchased from.
When a person is in crisis and considering harming themselves or others, family members and law enforcement are often the first people to see the warning signs. Extreme Risk laws, like HB 525, would create, empower loved ones or law enforcement to intervene in order to temporarily prevent someone in crisis from accessing firearms. These laws can help de-escalate emergency situations and are a proven way to intervene before gun violence such as a firearm suicide or mass shooting takes more lives.
Polling shows that the policies HB 623 and HB 525 would create are extraordinarily popular among North Carolina voters. 91% of voters support background checks on all gun sales, including 95% of suburban women, while 84% overall support red flags laws, including 91% of suburban women. 64% of voters say they would never vote for a candidate who doesn’t support background checks on all gun sales, and it was the TOP issue among independents by a two-point margin. Voters broadly agree that it is possible to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them while also protecting the rights of gun owners by a near 2:1 margin (65% possible/35% not possible).
HB 398, on the other hand, would repeal North Carolina’s background check requirement on unlicensed handgun sales and make it easy for felons, domestic abusers, and those prohibited based on mental illness to buy handguns in North Carolina. Since 1998, 80,000 firearm sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied in North Carolina. Each year, North Carolina’s background check system blocks nearly 2,000 illegal sales to convicted felons and nearly 500 illegal sales to domestic abusers. Twenty-one states, including North Carolina, and the District of Columbia have laws requiring a person to pass a criminal background check before buying a handgun from an unlicensed seller. State laws requiring background checks for all handgun sales are associated with lower firearm homicide rates, lower firearm suicide rates, and lower rates of firearm trafficking. When Missouri repealed its purchase permit law requiring background checks, the state experienced an up to 27 percent increase in its firearm homicide rate.