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North Carolina gun sales spike after purchase permit law repealed

Clayton Guns owner Rob Maungyoo
Jason deBruyn
Rob Maungyoo, who owns Clayton Guns, said he supported the law change and that he saw an increase in traffic.

Gun sales in North Carolina increased in 2023, following a repeal of a law that requires a purchase permit for handguns.

In March, the legislature overrode Gov. Roy Cooper's veto and repealed a law requiring a purchase permit from the county sheriff to buy a handgun. A background check is still required. In April, there were more than 83,000 FBI background checks across the state. There is no repository that tracks gun sales, but background checks serve as a good proxy.

Rob Maungyoo, who owns Clayton Guns, said he supported the law change and that he saw an increase in traffic.

"It was an archaic law. I mean, they should have gotten rid of it a long time ago. It's an old Jim Crow law saying who and who can't own a handgun," Maungyoo said. "The whole idea was that it was the sheriff who knew his constituents — he knew everybody in the county. Nowadays there's a million people in Johnston County, or however many people in Johnston County. So, he can't know a tenth of his constituents."

Gun sales spiked in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic and racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd. By 2022, sales had dipped back to historic levels, but again increased last year. Sales for 2023 were still lower than both 2020 and 2021.

According to the FBI's background database, there have been only three months with more background checks that April of 2023. Those were June of 2020, the highest month on record, and January and March of 2021.

The Sheriff's Association says it is not aware of any adverse consequences as a result of that law being repealed.

Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.