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Anti-gun violence advocates: Cooper veto of gun bill should be sustained

In case you missed it, one of the vetoes issued by Gov. Cooper in recent days addressed the subject of gun violence. House Bill 652 is a bill that originally dealt with vehicle registration fees and penalties when it passed the House back in 2019, but a week prior to the end of the 2020 short session, it was converted into a bill to make it easier to carry concealed weapons into sensitive locations and dubbed the “Second Amendment Protection Act.”

The governor’s veto message was short and sweet: “This bill allows guns on school property which threatens the safety of students and teachers. Therefore, I veto the bill.”

The NRA says the governor was in error and that all the bill does is allow law abiding citizens to carry guns when attending religious services in buildings that are both a school and a place or worship.

Advocates North Carolinians Against Gun Violence disagree and distributed the following memo yesterday explaining their assessment of the measure:

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence applauds Governor Cooper for supporting gun violence prevention by vetoing H652, the Second Amendment Protection Act. We call on all lawmakers to vote to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto for the safety of school children, teachers and for people in emergency situations.The bill would legalize the carrying of concealed firearms at places of worship associated with schools, weaken our concealed carry weapons permitting system and allow EMS personnel to concealed carry when on the job with police.

To protect children, current state law prohibits concealed firearms at places of worship that have an associated school. This belief remains sound public policy. Removing this protection puts school children at increased risk regardless of whether the firearms are allowed during curricular and extracurricular activities.  

“We oppose H652 and are thankful and appreciative that Governor Cooper agrees and vetoed this bill,” said NCGV Executive Director Becky Ceartas. “H652 circumvents state policy outlawing concealed carry of firearms on school grounds and would put school children at greater risk of gun violence. State law applies to both public and private school property and makes no exception for schools owned and operated by places of worship for a simple reason: it endangers school children.”

Current law that allows people to carry firearms into a place of worship not associated with a school is also dangerous. At a minimum, places of worship should be required to “opt-in” to concealed carry and post public notices so that people know if people might be legally carrying firearms. At present the default requires religious places of worship to “opt out”. H652 also would require opting out.

Of additional concern, H652 will further damage our state’s firearm safety laws by:

  • weakening NC’s concealed carry weapons permitting system by making it easier to renew a permit without an in-person firearms safety and training course if renewed within a certain amount of time. Given that permits last five years, we need to strengthen our permitting system, not weaken it.
  • allowing on-duty emergency medical services personnel working with law enforcement to carry concealed if they meet certain criteria. We simply do not need more people carrying deadly weapons in emergency situations.

“These changes undermine the link between gun safety training and permitting, and seek to add even more firearms to emergency situations,” Ceartas noticed. “NCGV opposes these dangerous provisions.”

In 2018 the CDC reports that 1,416 people were killed with firearms in North Carolina. We need better gun laws to protect all North Carolinians from gun violence. Unfortunately, H652 goes in the wrong direction by prioritizing easier firearms access over family safety

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