On the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, two very different bills are competing to set North Carolina’s political agenda on guns.
House Bill 86 – the Gun Violence Protection Act – was filed Thursday. It is an omnibus bill that would, among other provisions:
- Allow cities and counties to establish their own rules on where guns are permitted
- Require gun owners to carry liability insurance
- Require gun owners to report a lost or stolen weapon to law enforcement within 48 hours
- Allow law enforcement to destroy firearms they seize
- Make it a misdemeanor to fail to store a firearm secure, locked container when not in use.
“This is not political,” said Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), one of the bill’s sponsors, at a Thursday press conference. “It is about lives and safety – for our children and the people in our communities.”
On Tuesday a competing omnibus bill, House Bill 61, was filed. Among its other provisions, it would do away with permits to carry a concealed firearm.
But several of the Democratic lawmakers at Thursday’s press conference said it’s time for the state to make progress on what they called common-sense gun regulation.
“This state has gone the exact opposite direction we need to be going,” said Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford).
Democrats in the General Assembly have offered a gun safety bills every year since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Harrison said. None of them have gotten a vote.
Harrison said that with more Democrats in office this session, a new and more bipartisan climate may prevail on this issue.
Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe) agreed.
“People are tired of seeing the extreme partisan bickering that goes on all over the country,” Fisher said. ” Not forgetting about what goes on at the national level. We have a real opportunity in this legislature to stop that. To work across the aisle for the common good.”
“We hope that we get that bipartisan support we need to pass proactive bills rather than waiting for something terrible to happen in North Carolina,” she said.
Even as the press conference unfolded Thursday, police in Garner were responding to a shooting at a Walgreens that seriously injured two employees.