MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The Concealed Carry Weapons permit application North Carolina residents pick up from their county’s sheriff office is a process, to say the least.
First, much like any document on the first page, residents must fill out basic information: first name, last name, middle initial, address, etc. They also must truthfully answer questions pertaining to health and criminal activity, get a health assessment from their doctor, complete a 10-year address check and complete a National Rifle Association endorsed gun safety course.
Once completed, the resident will turn in all necessary documents to the county’s sheriff office, pay any required fees and once a FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System is complete, the sheriff will sign off on a concealed carry weapons permit.
Sounds like a lot to do. But all these requirements are about saving lives and protecting people from harm — by not letting guns, particularly CCW permits, fall into the wrong hands, according to the FBI’s website.
But what every law-abiding North Carolina resident goes through to exercise his Second Amendment right is a fraction compared to what service members have to complete in order to exercise that same right.
North Carolina General Statute 14-415 states North Carolina does not issue non-resident pistol and CCW permits, but there is a provision that allows service members to be recognized as residents of the state.
That’s when then-Maj. Gen. Robert C. Dickerson Jr., signed a Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune order to satisfy Onslow County and state requirements. This allowed service members the opportunity to obtain a pistol and CCW permit.
With MCB Camp Lejeune Base Order 5500.1G Pending H, a unit’s commanding officer can endorse a letter for a service member which serves as a background check and residency letter, providing all state and Onslow County requirements have been met. The letter states the troop does not have any negative remarks in his Service Record Book, no criminal offenses, no health factors, has completed the gun safety course and is of good moral character.
“Basically, when it comes down to it, we don’t have access to service member’s health and local criminal records,” said John Michael Moore, the special technical assistant to the Onslow County sheriff, who handles pistol purchase permits, CCW and fingerprints for Onslow County. “The service members’ primary care doctor is on base and we have to have their doctor’s approved stamp and the Provost Marshal’s Office stamp for the local background check as well.
“A civilian has their doctor out in town and any local criminal offenses can be found in the civilian database. Much like the civilians have a courthouse, the military’s courthouse is PMO, and that’s what we need,” Moore added.
In addition, if a service member lives in base housing, they have to register their weapons with PMO through the base housing form. On the flip side, if a service member lives in the barracks, it becomes tricky. The barracks are not considered an established residency, which prevents them from obtaining a CCW, according to state law.
“Weapons, pistol or shotguns, can’t be in a Marine’s possession while they are in the barracks and those residing in the barracks are not allowed to get a CCW permit,” said Tim Akers, the deputy provost marshal with PMO. “However, they are allowed to get a pistol permit, which allows them to buy guns, but they have to register them with (PMO) and keep their weapon in their unit’s armory.”
As Akers put it, it can be a complicating process to some unit commanders.
For instance, once the service member completes all of his paperwork, one of the last steps for him is to get a background check at PMO. Then, he will take that background check to his commanding officer to request a command letter endorsement. From there, the CO will review all paperwork included and verify no prohibiting factors in the Marine’s SRB and sign off on it. Akers said troops, sometimes, get the runaround.
“We’ll hear about Marines going back and forth between PMO and their respective commands about the order of the process, such as the unit commander won’t sign off until PMO signs off and vice versa,” Akers said. “Right now, though there’s no immediate end date, we are streamlining the process. We want to make this as clear as possible. We want to make sure that whatever the order says, the commanders will follow.
“The ‘pending H’ is what’s going on right now. There’s a routing process involved,” Akers added. “From PMO, the order will be routed through all the tenant commands since this affects all service members aboard the base. As of right now, we don’t have an estimation of when it will be complete.”
Akers acknowledged the steps needed might be an inconvenience, but said the rules are in place to help the military.
“Without these rules, service members won’t be able to exercise their Second Amendment (right),” Akers added. “The provision in the state law allows for service members not (residents of) this state the opportunity to get their CCW (permit).”
For more information about how to get a pistol or CCW permit, visit the Onslow County Sheriff’s office in Jacksonville. To view a sample command authorization letter, go to marines.mil/unit/mcblejeune/Pages/pmo/Useful%20Information.aspx .