June 11, 2013
NC Senate Committee Approves Gun Bill Eliminating Need for Handgun Permits
By voice vote, the NC Senate Judiciary Committee approves a gun-rights bill, HB 937, that would eliminate a law requiring potential gun owners to obtain a permit from their county sheriff before buying handguns. The bill would also extend concealed-carry permissions to, among other places: all education facilities, including public and private schools; parades; funeral processions; public parks and playgrounds; and greenways. Cities and counties would have a limited right to ban concealed-carry firearms in some locations. The bill would also conceal the names of citizens who have obtained concealed-carry permits. And, it would allow judges, registers of deeds, clerks of courts and magistrates with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms into a courthouse. A similar bill approved by the NC House would allow concealed-carry permit holders to bring concealed weapons into bars and other places that serve alcohol to the public.
Senator Buck Newton (R) says: “We’re here to enhance our Second Amendment rights, which have been too long restricted by the previous majority,” referring to Democrats. Concealed-carry permit owners “are, by definition, law-abiding citizens,” Newton said. Testifying before the committee, Gail Neely of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence says that less than 3% of NC citizens have concealed-carry permits, and that 90% of the citizenry favors more gun restrictions. “This is ridiculous,” she said. “You have nothing to support this bill. There is no credible evidence this bill will make us safer in North Carolina.” The Raleigh News and Observer writes that the bill “signals Senate Republicans are willing to loosen gun restrictions even in light of recent national tragedies, especially on school campuses. North Carolina would join more than 30 states that don’t require a permit to purchase a gun; a handful of states also allow concealed carry without a permit.” The bill is expected to pass the Senate. Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) issues a statement after the committee vote that says: “Eliminating permit background checks means more criminals, domestic abusers and the dangerous mentally ill can legally buy handguns. Instead we should be looking for ways to keep guns from them.” The police chiefs of 17 UNC campuses oppose the bill; the NC Sheriff’s Association opposes some provisions, particularly the elimination of the pistol purchase permit. Scott Allen, the father of a 4-year old boy who plays at a Fayetteville park, says: “I don’t think I would have an issue with it so much, but I think that would make it easier for people who are not legal, because they’ll feel as comfortable as the person who has the permit to carry. … I prefer it not be around my children, but if it’s going to be around my children, I don’t want it to be concealed. I want to know who’s carrying it, and who has it.” (“NC bill would do away with handgun permits,” Raleigh News and Observer; “New gun bill draft eliminates pistol purchase permit system,” WRAL)
Poll Shows Citizens Favor Restrictions
In February 2013, an Elon University poll showed 93% of North Carolina residents favored requiring background checks for all potential gun buyers, and 83% favored a waiting period. In an April 2013 poll, almost 57% favored “more legal restrictions on handguns in our society,” with the poll numbers breaking down along party lines — 80% of Democrats favoring more restrictions as compared to 37% of Republicans — as well as by gender and ethnicity. (“More restrictions on handguns? Yes,” Elon University Poll)