RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina lawmakers repealed the state's longtime pistol permit system at the end of March. Since then, federal background check data shows an uptick in the number of people looking to purchase a firearm.
According to FBI data, firearm background checks increased by 24% in April. Only two other states in the country reported an increase during this time and not to that degree.
One local gun store said it saw an uptick and some buyers have attributed it to not having the time to go to the Sheriff's Office. They said others have told them they thought no background check was needed at all anymore. Gun stores in North Carolina are still responsible for running federal background checks on prospective buyers.
The latest federal data shows in May the number of background checks returned to March levels. In May, 18,000 fewer people sought a federal background check last month. Despite the decrease, the number is still 46% higher than in May 2022.
Local law enforcement agencies said it is still too soon to know if this uptick in background checks and sales will have an impact on local crime.
"I don't know that we can correlate the rise in gun sales to the rise in gun violence in any way. There may be a correlation. We can't say that there is or isn't at this point. We're just going to continue to focus on educating the community on gun safety and being there to answer their questions," Wake County Lt. Joe Fisher said.
While sheriff's offices across the state no longer issue permits before a handgun can be purchased, they are still tasked with issuing concealed carry permits. Fisher said the demand for those permits has stayed steady.
He said they have seen people previously denied by the sheriff's office trying to get a permit and being denied again.
"There's definitely been an uptick in communication between the sheriff's office and the FBI because we're getting notified of these denials," Fisher explained. "Some of them are folks that we have previously denied. They're just trying their luck or it doesn't cost them anything to go up there try."
Deputy Ryan Doxsie works in the agency's crime prevention unit. He said the office is continuing efforts to make sure guns don't wind up in the wrong hands.
An increase in gun sales could have a negative impact on crime if new gun owners are not responsible.
"The illegal guns that were taken off the street were all once legally owned and through larcenies or loss or borrowing or however, the guns get into the wrong hands," Doxsie said.
He said this summer he and others are really hoping to educate the community about safe practices for storing and locking those firearms up, along with encouraging increased firearm training.
Wake County residents with questions about permitting can reach the sheriff's office at 919-856-6949.
"Our events throughout the month of June are to impress upon people to store those guns safely and efficiently and try to cut down on some gun violence that way," Doxsie said.
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