Firearms advocacy group files second permit delay lawsuit against Mecklenburg sheriff  

Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden
Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden

RALEIGH — The largest gun rights advocacy group in the state is following through on its promise to file a second lawsuit over continued delays to concealed carry permits against Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden. 

Grassroots North Carolina (GRNC) will be filing a complaint and request for injunctive relief with the U.S. District Court For The Western District Of North Carolina. The complaint alleges violations of both the Second and 14th amendments. 

“Despite a consent order requiring him to obey North Carolina law, Sheriff Garry McFadden appears to be deliberately delaying and obstructing concealed handgun permit applications by flooding the Veterans Administration with records requests, even for applicants who never served in the military,” GRNC President Paul Valone said in a statement. 

Per the complaint, GRNC says sheriffs in the state’s other 99 counties have been able to issue or deny all Concealed Handgun Permits (CHP) applications within the statutory 45-day window, yet McFadden is dragging out application processing for more than a year. 

In its press release, GRNC alleges McFadden has been delaying permit issuance by making “numerous irrelevant mental health records requests to the VA [Veterans Administration].” The group says McFadden is making the requests not just for veteran applicants but for all concealed handgun permit applicants. The result has been a backlog at the VA which is under no obligation to provide information for background check services on non-veterans. 

“McFadden seems to think he can play a game of ‘Whac-A-Mole’ in which we win an injunction and consent order requiring him to issue handgun permits in compliance with North Carolina law, only to have him exploit yet another abusive interpretation of the law,” said Valone. “But McFadden is mistaken. As we have said previously, Grassroots North Carolina and Gun Owners of America will file as many lawsuits as necessary to ensure that this sheriff and other sheriffs comply with the law.” 

GRNC notes the requests made by McFadden are redundant since the “NICS Improvement Act of 2007” requires the VA to report mental health disqualifications to the National Instant Background Check system, the system state law requires sheriffs to access to process firearms applications. 

The complaint also charges that McFadden is misinterpreting state statutes by claiming that he has 45 days after his office receives mental health records to process applications even though the law states the time limit is 45 days and receipt of mental health records. 

“With our legal hand strengthened by the recent Supreme Court decision in NY State Rifle & Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen, we have a strong position to win this suit, meaning McFadden’s obstructionism serves only to unfairly burden the taxpayers of Mecklenburg County with the costs of pointless litigation,” Valone said. 

The firearms advocacy organization successfully sued McFadden over permit delays in 2021, resulting in a preliminary injunction and consent order issued in May and June of this year, respectively.  

The preliminary injunction issued in May by Judge Karen Eady-Williams ordered McFadden to process pistol purchase permits within the 14 days required by state law and concealed carry permit applications within the 45 days as required by state statute. Additionally, McFadden’s office was directed to request mental health records to process concealed handgun applications within the state law requirement of 10 days and to process fingerprints for concealed carry applicants within five business days.   

The June 2022 consent order requires McFadden to comply with state law that says pistol permit purchase applications have to be processed within 14 days, fingerprinting for concealed carry permits must be done the same day the application is made, and all requests for mental health records for concealed handgun applicants must follow state law and be done within 10 calendar days of receiving the application. 

The consent order also directs McFadden to either issue or deny a concealed carry application within 45 days after receiving the application and mental health records. The order specifically states that McFadden “shall not otherwise violate or fail to comply with” state laws governing the issuance of pistol purchase and concealed carry permits. 

McFadden is not the only sheriff to be successfully sued by GRNC over permit delays.  

In August 2021, the same month GRNC first sued McFadden, a federal judge ordered Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker to pay more than $26,000 to the plaintiffs in a pistol permit delay case originally filed in April 2020. The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and GRNC filed the suit along with Kelly Stafford, a member of GRNC and a Wake County resident who has been denied a permit by Baker. 

About A.P. Dillon 1257 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_