Legislators cut a provision that would have ended the state’s pistol purchase permit system in 2021 and another provision that would have allowed legislators and staffers with concealed carry permits to carry concealed handguns inside the state legislative building.
North Carolinians Against Gun Violence executive director Becky Ceartas said the finalized House bill took compromise.
“We saw courageous lawmakers reach across the aisle to garner bipartisan support to the amendments that were passed,” Ceartas said.
The bill would change the pistol purchase permit system by preventing a sheriff from looking more than five years into the past to assess a person’s “good moral character.”
Grass Roots N.C. president Paul Valone said the five-year limit lessens sheriffs’ ability to arbitrarily deny permits.
Ceartas said she was pleased that the bill kept important safeguards.
“We were also incredibly happy that it preserved health care providers’ rights to talk with their patients about gun safety and disclose information to law enforcement officials if needed,” she said.
Ceartas said she was happy the bill continues to prohibit stalkers from ever getting a concealed carry permit. A previous version of the bill allowed people convicted of stalking to receive concealed carry permits five years after their convictions.
Valone said he was fine with the measure to re-include violent offenders on the concealed carry blacklist.
“We won’t count it against the legislators who voted for it,” he said. “Stalking is a violation of law. Prosecute it. Illegal ownership of a firearm by a felon is a violation of law. Prosecute it. It has nothing to do with gun rights. It has nothing to do with protecting lawful gun owners.”
Valone said the bill would improve gun ownership rights by protecting concealed carry owners from accidental felony charges they might get by transferring their guns from holsters to closed compartments while driving on educational properties. He said it would also protect lawful gun owners from cities and counties that impose gun control in violation of state law.
UNC political science graduate student Steven Sparks said gun rights groups are more powerful political lobbyists than gun control groups.
“People on the other side have done a good job saying, ‘They want to take your guns away,’ when I think that what people want is background checks, so guns don’t get into the hands of people who are unstable,” he said.
Citizens such as Corey Sturmer, a Durham native and gun owners’ rights advocate, are skeptical that all gun permit restrictions are made in good faith or with effective outcomes.
“This is especially pertinent when we consider ‘mental illness’ as a potential disqualifier since there are a range of totally normal behaviors not conducive to violent crime,” Sturmer said.
He also said that members of the General Assembly would be wise to bear arms.
“In Charleston, an elected official was shot in a church, and the guns get blamed, but it could well have been a gun on the legislator that prevented the other eight people from being killed,” he said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to the North Carolina Legislative Building. The story has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.