RALEIGH—A bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms into bars and restaurants passed in the state House today.
House Bill 937 passed its third reading 78 votes to 42 votes. It now moves on to the Senate.
The GOP-led bill expands concealed carry privileges and strengthens some laws for crimes committed with firearms.
House Bill 937 would allow concealed carry permit holders in North Carolina to carry a concealed weapon into “an assembly where an admission fee is charged or an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed,” both of which are currently illegal in North Carolina. The concealed carry permit holder would not be allowed to consume alcohol while carrying.
The bill allows for an exception if “the premises has posted a notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on the premises.”
House Bill 937 also allows for a concealed handgun “in a locked compartment in a vehicle on the premises of a community college or public or private college or university.”
The measure would also make it a criminal offense for anyone to allow a child access to a firearm without parental consent and supervision.
The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association supports the bill, while University of North Carolina at Wilmington Chancellor Gary Miller and others in UNC system leadership oppose the measure.
During debate Tuesday afternoon on the House floor, N.C. Rep. Verla Inscoe, D-Orange, said she was concerned about the safety of children if the bill were to pass.
“Human beings don’t come with ‘good guy,’ ‘bad guy’ written on their foreheads. You get six people with guns. How do you know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? More guns in more people’s hands is not going to make us safer. If children are exposed to more and more guns there are going to be more and more accidents,” Inscoe said.
N.C. Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, favored the bill.
“The law-abiding citizen with a gun is someone who has a gun not for committing a crime, but to protect their family from being victims of crime. Criminals, they’re carrying a weapon for the purpose of committing a crime.
“We don’t like violence. We don’t like gun violence. We’ve seen tremendous acts of violence, terrible acts of violence….long before the gun was ever invented. Anytime there’s an act of violence committed by a gun, the left wants to pass a law banning guns,” Jones said.
N.C. Rep. Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland, said he was a longtime member of the National Rifle Association and a longtime hunter.
“I believe in guns, and I believe in gun safety, but as I listen to this debate…almost, I’ve been persuaded. But now my heart’s heavy because I’ve witnessed debate on this floor that’s been curtailed, channeled, cut off on amendments that I think can make this bill better so that many of us can vote on this bill, because we do believe in keeping our families safe.
“I want this state to be safe. We all believe in gun safety. But whenever we cut off wholesome debate that could be utilized to make this bill a palatable bill, I’m very gravely concerned,” Lucas said.
“I would have to vote no as this bill now stands. What good is a gun in a locked compartment if you’re being accosted?”
N.C. Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Franklin, said he and his wife are both concealed carry permit holders.
“I went into two restaurants in Rocky Mount Sunday, both of which serve alcohol. I didn’t imbibe one sip of alcohol, but if I had my weapon, it would have been illegal,” Collins said.
“The fact that you’re in an establishment with alcohol doesn’t mean you’re using alcohol,” Franklin said.
“I don’t fear people who, like me, have gone through the process…the training, the gun safety and accuracy. Those aren’t the people that I fear. I do want to defend myself against the people who might harm me.”
“Where do the mass shootings occur? They occur on university campuses, they occur on school campuses, they occur in restaurants, they occur in movie theaters. How does passing more regulations on concealed carry permit holders help that problem?”
“I can’t speak for anybody else, but I get far more emails…on this issue than I get on probably all other issues combined, and 95 percent of them tell me the same thing, ‘Don’t let anybody in the government take my gun away,’ so I am listening to my constituents when I support this bill,” Collins said.
Miller opposes House Bill 937, which would allow weapons on UNC system and other colleges and universities in North Carolina if they are in a locked compartment.
“Many members of the campus community, including our police officers, share the concerns expressed by President [Thomas] Ross that the passage of House Bill 937 would create additional and unnecessary risks to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. The potential increase in gun-related incidents on campus is simply not worth the minimal convenience this bill would offer concealed carry permit holders.
“Allowing people to store weapons in their cars does not in any way benefit their personal safety while on campus; the idea of people having the time and capacity to retreat to their vehicles to arm themselves during a threat has very little chance of occurring. The realities, however, are much more harsh. We will face the possibility of guns being stolen from vehicles by people who are already demonstrating a disregard for the law by breaking into cars – and now could be armed with stolen handguns. We could also experience injuries due to the accidental discharge of weapons.
“We need to take this opportunity to plant ourselves firmly on the right side of this issue. It’s truly a matter of public safety, which we should be protecting at every turn,” Miller said.
Caroline Curran is the managing editor of Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.