For the second time in two years, the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s office, led by Sheriff Garry McFadden, is being sued over delays in processing concealed-handgun and pistol-purchase permit applications. The second lawsuit and request for injunctive relief was filed by retired former N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Judge Bob Hunter and N.C. Attorney Ron Shook in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of N.C. on behalf of Grassroots North Carolina (GRNC) and the Gun Owners of America (GOA) organizations.
Andy Stevens and Bryan Yerke, spokesmen for plaintiffs GRNC and GOA, held a press conference at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on Nov. 28 to address the latest lawsuit against McFadden.
Sheriff McFadden was initially sued by GRNC and GOA in 2021 over the department’s continued delay of gun permit issuances. The result of the litigation ended with McFadden agreeing to comply with state law regarding gun permit applications.
Shook, who operates his own law practice in Gastonia, told Carolina Journal about his involvement with the case.
“I filed a lawsuit against the Mecklenburg County sheriff on behalf of Grassroots NC and Gun Owners of America last year due to his delays in issuing both purchase permits and concealed handgun permits,” he said. “That suit ended with a consent judgment whereby Sheriff McFadden agreed to abide by North Carolina law in issuing these permits. We learned of the continued delays through Grassroots NC, who continued to receive complaints of significant delays after the first lawsuit was settled.”
Detailing the specifics of the case, GRNC published a press release, which revealed numerous complaints from Mecklenburg County concealed handgun permit applicants, the background of the case, purported evidence of McFadden’s obstruction over the permit delays, McFadden’s alleged exploitation of N.C. law with respect to gun permit issuances, and details of the recent lawsuit.
The press release also contains a statement from GRNC president Paul Valone regarding GRNC’s position on the latest filing.
“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, Valone said. “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. But McFadden is mistaken. As we have said previously, Grass Roots 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. 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.”
Analyzing the State of New York’s law requiring that applicants for unrestricted concealed-carry licenses demonstrate a special need for self-defense, the court ruled in Bruen that New York’s “proper cause” requirement violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution while also holding that the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense is deeply rooted in history, and no other constitutional right requires a showing of “special need” to exercise it. Justice Clarence Thomas’ majority opinion also stated that while some “sensitive places” restrictions might be appropriate, Manhattan is not a “sensitive place.” Gun restrictions are constitutional only if there is a tradition of such regulation in U.S. history.
In an email to CJ, Jordan Stein, the Southeast Regional Director for GOA said that the organization will continue to monitor McFadden’s handling of handgun permit delays.
“GOA will continue to hold Sheriff Garry McFadden accountable for deliberately delaying the issuance of purchase and carry permits,” said Stein. “While no other county in the Tar Heel state is experiencing similar issues, Mecklenburg County has delays for over a year. Further, with the Bruen decision on our side, we look forward to beating McFadden’s constant infringements on the rights of Mecklenburg citizens in the courts. GOA looks forward to advocating for Constitutional Carry, Pistol Purchase Permit repeal and more pro-gun reforms in the upcoming legislative session.”
Shook is optimistic about a favorable outcome with the newest lawsuit.
“In light of the recent Bruen decision, I believe that we have an extremely strong case, and we are likely to succeed,” he said.
CJ reached out to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office for comment but were told the office had not received service/notice of an alleged lawsuit.