Greensboro, N.C. - The right to own a gun is a point of pride for many people in our country. However, if you want to carry a concealed weapon, you need to fill out paperwork and go through a background check. Your local sheriff is charge of making sure you pass all the safety checks and requirements.
Our 2 Wants to Know Investigation uncovered another way you can get a conceal and carry permit -- without your local sheriff's signature.
"It really opens your eyes," Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said. Guilford County Sheriff B.J. Barnes said, "They're taking them at their own risk."
Both sheriffs know owning a gun carries enormous responsibility. Before you can carry a weapon, you must pass a criminal background check.
Sheriff Page said, "Everyone one of those that comes back, I sign off on every one of them. I put my signature on them....I personally call every person that is issued a conceal and carry permit and invite them to come to the sheriff's office to pick up their conceal and carry permit."
However, other states are issuing permits to people living in North Carolina. Right now, Florida has issued more than 1600 active conceal and carry permits to people who live in our state. It's perfectly legal.
"I wonder why a person who lives in North Carolina would apply for a non-resident conceal and carry permit out of Florida," Sheriff Page said. "Why would another state issue a non-resident conceal and carry permit? The only thing i can figure would be a revenue generator."
Sheriff Barnes added, "When they go to other states, get them by mail or whatever...I don't know if the checks are there that need to be there."
Right now, the state of Florida has 107,913 active out-of-state permits. Each costs $117. That adds up to more than twelve and a half million dollars.
"They can get those other permits there, but they're still going to have to adhere to the rules and laws right here in North Carolina," Sheriff Barnes said. "It's a loophole in the law. That's exactly what's occurred here."
After learning about this issue through our investigation, Sheriff Page told WFMY News 2's Mark Geary, "I'll be communicating with some of fellow sheriffs and police chiefs across North Carolina, really, I think, because a lot of people don't know."
Even though Florida does a federal background check and requires applicants to submit their fingerprints and take a gun course before they issue a permit. However, our local sheriffs told News 2 that's not good enough. They want to be in charge of all the permits in their county.
North Carolina's conceal and carry permit is $90.
We reached out to the state of Florida and asked two questions:
1. Why issue permits to people who might never set foot in Florida?
2. Is this all about the money?
This is how the state responded:
"Florida law requires our agency to issue concealed weapon permits to anyone who meets the requirements to hold such a permit, regardless of whether or not they are a Florida resident. We have absolutely no discretion in denying an application based on the state in which the individual lives. North Carolina recognizes Florida's concealed weapon permitting process and allows Florida permit holders to legally carry a concealed weapon. A person holding a Florida concealed weapon permit must have a completed an education course and must not have a criminal background with violent or felony convictions. The permit is not issued by our agency in an effort to increase revenue for the state of Florida, but because the individual has certified they meet all of the requirements of Florida law."
WFMY News 2