February 22, 2021

BELLEVUE, WA – A U.S. District Court Judge in North Carolina has ruled that plaintiffs in a case challenging last year’s “temporary suspension” of accepting and processing pistol purchase permits allegedly due to the COVID-19 outbreak and state of emergency declared by Gov. Roy Cooper, may pursue damage claims and associated claims for declaratory relief and attorney’s fees.

The case is known as Stafford v. Baker

On March 24, 2020, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker “announced a temporary suspension in the acceptance and processing of PPP applications, through April 30, 2020, citing as the basis for this action, according to the complaint, “a significant increase in PPP applicants and concomitant concerns over social distancing violation by long lines of applicants,” according to the ruling by Judge Louise W. Flanagan. 

Plaintiff Kelly Stafford called the Wake County Sheriff’s Office to ask about proceeding with her application for the pistol purchase permit. Because the application process had been suspended until after April 30, “she was statutorily barred from purchasing any handgun for defense of herself and her family in her home.”

The Second Amendment Foundation, Grass Roots North Carolina and Firearms Policy Coalition filed suit with Stafford.

“While we understand concerns about the coronavirus that erupted at the time,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “one simply cannot suspend the ability of private citizens to exercise their constitutional rights.” 

Judge Flanagan’s ruling recognizes that Stafford “has already obtained all the relief she sought in her claim for injunctive relief, and she will not have a need to obtain again a PPP permit.”

“We’re glad Kelly was able to finally get her PPP,” Gottlieb noted, “but that wasn’t the point. The constitution doesn’t take a day off, even in a declared state of emergency. And neither do we.”

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