The Safe Carry Protection Act, which becomes law Tuesday, is known for lessening restrictions on where people can take their guns, but it is also causing large changes in how the court gives and renews permits, said Cherokee Probate Court Judge B. Keith Wood.
Essentially, Wood said, the new law opens the option of getting a license up to more people.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing,” he said Friday. “I think some of the stuff they did were things that should have been done anyway.”
Among the newly eligible carriers are individuals in the military, or who have been honorably discharged, between the ages of 18 and 20, who previously had to wait until they were 21 to get a license like everyone else.
“But they’ve got to jump through a couple of hoops,” Wood said. “They’ve got to show they’ve been through basic training and that they’re active duty, or they’ve been honorably discharged. That’s going to be something different that we haven’t had to deal with before.”
The new law has also done away with the old standard of finger-printing license holders when they renew. Wood said previously probate court used the fingerprints to look up the gun owners’ background and will now rely on several computerized systems.
“To me, that’s a little bit of a disadvantage, but that’s a policy decision that the Legislature made,” he said. “The computer-based searches are based on name only and descriptive information.”
The computer-based systems can be flawed if the information is entered incorrectly, Wood said, giving the example of misspelled names.
“Fingerprints are just a better way of getting a criminal history,” Wood said.
Another issue with the change is the word “renewal” wasn’t defined in the law, Wood said.
Complications may also be ahead with the new mental health provisions, which Wood said were aimed in part at giving some people with previous mental health issues a chance to get a license.
“I’m not even sure I understand it yet because it conflicts with federal law to some degree,” he said. “It’s very murky right now, and I’m not sure how all that’s going to play out. That’s going to be one of the confusing things, although quite frankly, I rarely see mental health issues.”
One good thing, Wood said, was the legislators changed what happens when the court revokes a carry license. Previously, it was gone forever, which the judge felt was harsh. But now there’s a chance to get it back, he said.
On the whole, Wood said the law might need a bit of editing during the next legislative session.
“It’s not uncommon,” he said. “Sometimes, there has to be cleanup language.”
For the complete text of the law, visit www.cherokeega.com/Probate-Court/documents.cfm on or after Tuesday.