WILMINGTON — A new bill has been approved by the North Carolina House of Representatives. If the law is enacted, it would heavily alter current gun laws and regulations in the state.
House Bill 746 passed through the legislative body Thursday with a total of 64 representatives in favor of the bill and only 51 in opposition.
The bill would amend current North Carolina laws to allow any person 18 years or older to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, in the state without a concealed handgun permit. There would still be limitations of where gun owners would be allowed to carry their handguns, and other weapons including Bowie Knives and slingshot’s would still be illegal to concealed carry.
“This move would make North Carolina the 14th state to allow practical carry for their citizens … a move that will expand the ability for law abiding citizens to be able to protect themselves and their loved ones from harm,” State Representative and primary sponsor for the bill Chris Millis said.
Currently, residents who wish to carry a handgun have to go through a permitting process that requires applicants to attending firearms training and obtain permission from local law enforcement to purchase a handgun.
While the bill could make the need for a concealed handgun permit unnecessary in certain areas, the state would still offer the permits for the ease of crossing state lines, as well as for those wanting to carry their handgun in certain locations, according to the bill.
New Hanover County representatives Deb Butler and Ted Davis Jr., both voted against the proposed bill, while Holly Grange did not cast a vote in favor or against the bill due to an excused absence, according to state records. Grange previously voted in favor of the bill several times during initial readings.
Millis made sure to point out that the new bill would not loosen restrictions on the purchases of handguns.
“Anyone desiring to purchase a firearm, including a handgun, would be required to meet all current state and federal laws … including background checks … nothing in regard to purchasing will be changed by the passage of this bill,” Millis said.
The next step for the bill is to go before the state Senate. If approved by the Senate, it will be brought before Governor Roy Cooper. If Cooper chooses to veto the bill, the General Assembly could override the Governor’s decision.
New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon through an email said the challenge he sees with the law ” is balancing the individual’s right to bear arms against the community’s right and expectation to be safe and protected.”
“I totally support the second amendment. However, I believe that there should be some checks and balances in place for those who have chosen the great responsibility of being armed,” McMahon said.
Several other law enforcement agencies declined to comment on the story, referring questions to other agencies.
Reporter Michael Praats can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.