The North Carolina state Senate on Wednesday voted to approve legislation that would allow residents to bypass the longstanding requirement to obtain a permit from the local sheriff in order to purchase a handgun.
While Republicans were successful in passing the bill in a 27-20 party line vote, the measure is expected to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has repeatedly signaled his support for additional gun control measures and implementing more restrictions on gun sales.
GOP members in the state legislature argued that the requirement to seek approval from the local sheriff is not necessary due to the federal background checks that all licensed gun dealers must conduct, according to The Associated Press.
The bill, which was first introduced in the state House in March and was approved by the lower chamber in a May 69-48 vote, would not end the state’s existing requirement to obtain a permit from a sheriff for concealed weapons.
Republican state Sen. Chuck Edwards said during floor debate Wednesday that the existing law for handguns is "simply just ineffective.”
“This law is archaic and it’s duplicative,” he added, the AP reported.
However, Democrats have pointed out that the national background check requirements do not apply to private gun sales between two individuals, noting that the absence of a state review for handgun sales could increase the chances of weapons falling into the wrong hands.
“This bill would remove one of the few protections that we currently have in place to stop dangerous people from buying handguns,” state Sen. Natasha Marcus (D) said Wednesday, according to the AP.
The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association backed the bill this year, a shift from its years-long opposition to removing the permit requirement.
The AP reported that North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) spoke out against the bill this week, saying that state lawmakers must recognize “the serious threat to public safety this legislation carries and reject it.”
A likely veto from Cooper follows previous moves by the Democratic governor to thwart GOP-led efforts to expand Second Amendment protections.
In June, Cooper for the second year in a row vetoed legislation that would have allowed parishioners at churches to carry weapons, including at religious services held at private schools and some charter schools.
The governor said at the time that the legislation presented a significant threat to the “safety of students and teachers.”