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Scrapping pink N.C. licenses a good move

So, the N.C. Department of Transportation raised the “pink” flag of surrender on colored driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants granted protection under a federal delayed deportation program. Good. Finally, common sense prevails. As we said previously, there’s no apparent, specific law enforcement benefit to the pink-stripped licenses.

Instead, the licenses seemed a childish, vindictive slap at the immigrants who are being granted the right to be here. Further, it appeared to be a way to heap humiliation on the young adults participating in the two-year federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

State officials aren’t saying they bowed to pressure in changing the design. A DOT spokesman would only say the change made it easier for the DMV to issue new licenses more efficiently. The design will be similar to those of other licenses issued for limited duration to groups such as visiting students and agriculture workers. That’s what we and others urged before.

Unfortunately, the licenses will still bear in bold red letters the unnecessary words “No lawful status.” The words have no public safety value to law enforcers. They’ve said their desire is for all drivers to have a valid driver’s license and to be able to prove that. The expiration date on the license provides that information.

DOT officials said the words are needed because state law requires a distinguishing mark on the face of temporary licenses. Yet the licenses will also bear the words “Limited Term” which seem distinguishing enough. Those words also seem a sufficient alert to potential misuse of the license by these immigrants or any other residents with temporary status.

In any case, dropping the pink licenses was the right move. We’re glad N.C. officials changed course.

A bad gun bill

The debate over gun control sometimes has an Alice-in-Wonderland feel about it. To wit, North Carolina House Bill 310. It is called “The Handgun Permit Modernization Act.” In this case, “modernization” means “make it easier for mentally ill people to obtain concealed carry permits.”

The bill sits in the House Rules Committee, and that’s where it should stay.

Under current law, sheriffs can consider mental health records of an applicant for a concealed carry permit. That may seem like utter common sense, but H310 would strip sheriffs of that discretion.

The bill would still disqualify applicants whose names appear in a national database because of mental health commitments. But it would erase the current required disclosure “of any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant to be used for the sole purpose of determining whether the applicant is disqualified for a permit.”

Sheriffs would not be allowed to request any information about a permit applicant’s mental health background beyond what is in the national database.

This is a bill supported by the gun lobby and is one more effort to remove any obstacles to getting a permit and getting it fast. But taking away sheriffs’ ability to fully review an applicant’s mental health background is a dangerous move.

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