North Carolina is one of the few states in the country with public records of who has a permit to carry a concealed firearm, so it provides a rare window into how such permits are handled once their holder’s criminal record proves them unfit to carry a hidden gun. The results are not pretty:
More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun. […]
The review also raises concerns about how well government officials police the permit process. In about half of the felony convictions, the authorities failed to revoke or suspend the holder’s permit, including for cases of murder, rape and kidnapping. The apparent oversights are especially worrisome in North Carolina, one of about 20 states where anyone with a valid concealed handgun permit can buy firearms without the federally mandated criminal background check. (Under federal law, felons lose the right to own guns.)
Violent criminals who were allowed to keep their concealed carry permits include Ricky Wills, who “terroriz[ed] his estranged wife and their daughter with a pair of guns and then sho[t] at their house while they, along with a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a 911 call, were inside,” and Charles Dowdle, who “was convicted of multiple felonies in 2006 for threatening to kill his girlfriend and chasing her to her sister’s house, where he fired a shotgun round through a closed door.” Indeed, violent individuals convicted of domestic violence-related crimes are the most likely to be allowed to keep their concealed carry permits. Nearly two-thirds of individuals convicted of “assault on a female” in the state of North Carolina did not have their concealed carry permits suspended.
The state’s failures to suspend these licenses appears to be a series of oversights, not a deliberate effort to place concealed firearms in the hands of violent criminals — indeed, Mr. Willis’ permit was revoked after New York Times reporters informed the state that he still had it. Nevertheless, these oversights could soon have consequences for the safety of Americans in all fifty states. The National Right To Carry Reciprocity Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives, would give holders of concealed carry permits from any one state the ability to carry a concealed weapon while than were visiting any other state — even if the state they were visiting banned concealed carry or would not allow them to obtain a carry permit.
In other words, should this bill become law, it would mean that a violent felon from North Carolina could keep his permit solely because of an oversight, and then travel to any state he chooses with a concealed gun tucked under his jacket.