Permitless concealed carry bills find approval in 2 state houses

Measures that would let the Constitution serve as a concealed carry permit were given the green light Wednesday by lawmakers in two states.

In Michigan, a four-pack of bills to allow law-abiding residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit was approved by a Republican-heavy majority and now proceeds to the state Senate.

“My question is, why are law abiding citizens paying expensive fees for courses and permits to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms?” asked Rep. Michelle Hoitenga, R-Manton, in lengthy testimony before lawmakers earlier this month.

The bills would repeal a host of Michigan’s laws that require training and a state-issued permit to carry a concealed firearm. They do not eliminate the state’s permitting system for those who wish to obtain a $105 license to carry to take advantage of existing out-of-state reciprocity agreements. Those currently unable to possess a firearm by law would still be barred from carrying.

Gun control advocates argue the measures and those adopted like them in a dozen other states are a threat to public safety.

“The states that have eliminated the permit requirement are basically making it easier to carry a gun in public than drive a car,” said Hannah Shearer, with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The legislation now heads to Senate for committee assignment. A positive floor vote there without amendment would send the package to the desk of Gov. Rick Snyder who, though a Republican, has a mixed record of signing pro-gun reforms.

North Carolina

In the Tar Heel State, lawmakers gave tentative 65-54 approval to House Bill 746, an omnibus measure that includes retaining the current permitting system for purposes of reciprocity with other states while removing the requirement to have a license to carry inside the state. Further, it keeps the state’s sometimes-controversial pistol purchase permit requirement intact.

“It is reasonable to allow law-abiding citizens to conceal carry in areas where open carry is currently allowed,” said state Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Greensboro, as reported by the Winston-Salem Journal.

Democrats, who counted eight GOP House members as crossing the aisle to poll with them against the bill this week, said the proposal is a mistake.

“I think it’s going in the wrong direction for preventing gun violence in our state,” said state Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Greensboro, who tried unsuccessfully to attach a magazine capacity limit to the bill.

A final vote is scheduled for Thursday, which, if successful, would send the bill to the North Carolina Senate for review.