On Tuesday, lawmakers in the Tar Heel State approved a comprehensive package of gun laws, including measures that expand concealed carry rights for law-abiding gun owners and measures that increase penalties for criminals who use firearms in the commission of a crime.
House Bill 937 was approved by the Senate by a vote of 32-14 and cleared the House by a vote of 73-41, ending months of heated debate over the bill’s various measures.
Of the more controversial aspects of HB 937 was a measure that would have completely removed the handgun purchase permit law, which requires citizens to undergo a background check and obtain permission from a local sheriff before being allowed to buy a handgun.
Instead of outright repealing this handgun purchase requirement, lawmakers compromised on a measure that would streamline the process, giving sheriffs less discretion in issuing permits while also requiring them to keep a record and provide an explanation on why they declined to issue a purchase permit.
Moreover, sheriffs are no longer allowed to limit the number of purchase permits an individual can apply for like they could in the past.
“There’s really no uniformity of practices now,” Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg) told the Associated Press. “You can have difference in outcomes in Wake County versus Mecklenburg.”
Additionally, this aspect of the bill protects the privacy of individuals who have applied for purchase permits; moving forward, the info will no longer be made available to the public.
There is a revocation clause that was added as well, which allows law enforcement to rescind one’s permit if he/she commits a crime. Lastly, the bill improves the reporting process of individuals who are felons, adjudicated mentally defective, or otherwise prohibited from purchasing a firearm to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Beyond purchase permits, the bill does a number of things to expand gun rights for responsible citizens, in particular where concealed carry permit holders can carry their firearms. Here is an overview, courtesy of the NRA-ILA:
-Allows Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) holders to lawfully carry their personal protection firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol.
-Removes the prohibition on CHP holders from carrying into a place where tickets are sold for admission.
-Fixes the problem of anti-gun localities overstepping their authority regarding restricting CHP holders from carrying firearms into locally controlled parks.
-Allows CHP holders to transport their personal protection handguns in their motor vehicle while on all school property, as well as allow them to store those handguns in their locked vehicles while parked on school property.
-Ensures the privacy of CHP holders by allowing access to the database of permittees only for law enforcement purposes.
-Removes the prohibition on CHP holders carrying their personal protection firearms during a parade or funeral.
-Brings North Carolina in compliance with the standards set forth in the federal NICS Improvement Amendments Act (NIAA) of 2007—a critical mental health reform.
-Removes the prohibition on using firearms with sound suppressing devices while otherwise lawfully hunting game.
-HB 937 is the most comprehensive pro-gun reform bill passed in North Carolina since 1995, when the original Right-to-Carry law was enacted.
The consensus is that HB 937 is pro-gun, which caused a kerfuffle amongst those who support tougher restrictions on one’s right to keep and bear arms.
“This is a bill that is in fact not balanced. It does not represent the kinds of concerns that gun safety groups have,” Rep. Paul Luebke told the AP. “Those perspectives were perhaps listened to, but they’re not included in the bill.”
But pro-gun lawmakers were quick to point out that concealed carry permit holders are not a threat to society.
“Responsible people are generally the ones who have concealed carry,” said Rep. John Faircloth. “They don’t want to get in trouble. They don’t want to ruin what they know was a good constitutional right.”
HB 937 will now head to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature or veto. Presumably, the Republican governor will give the bill his approval.