The Senate budget is dominating the headlines today but the House is set to vote this afternoon on a sweeping gun bill opposed by law enforcement and the McCrory Administration that would allow many buyers of handguns to avoid background checks.

The bill passed the House Rules Committee two weeks ago by one vote thanks to the support of Chairman David Lewis. It phases out the state’s pistol permit system currently administered by sheriffs across the state who run background checks as part of issuing the permits.

Bill supporters say handgun buyers would still be subject to federal background checks but that system does not cover purchases from private sellers and that’s how roughly 40 percent of handguns are bought.

The North Carolina Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, has delivered petitions to legislative leaders signed by thousands of North Carolinians opposing the bill.

The bill also absurdly allows lawmakers and staff to carry guns in the Legislative Building.


McCrory_budget305-aIt has been a rough couple of weeks for Governor Pat McCrory. First, the House and Senate overrode his vetoes of the so-called ag-gag bill and the legislation that allows magistrates to refuse to marry gay couples if they have a religious objection to marriage equality.

Then Monday Senate leaders rolled out a budget that refuses to restore the state historic tax credit program that McCrory has spent months promoting across the state. The budget also includes a plan to change how local sales tax revenue is distributed that McCrory vigorously opposes, and a proposal to reform Medicaid that McCrory’s appointees at DHHS don’t support.

And to add insult to injury, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger told reporters that he does not see the need for a transportation bond issue—another top McCrory priority—preferring instead to stop budget transfers out of the highway fund to raise money for highway projects.

It is the latest reminder that the folks running the Senate believe they are in charge in North Carolina regardless of what the governor of their own party believes.

Justice for McCollum and Brown
Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Henry McCollum listening to evidence of his innocence. Photo by Jenny Warburg / Courtesy of North Carolina Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Wednesday marks the 237th day that Governor Pat McCrory has refused to grant a pardon of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, the two Robeson County men who both spent 31 years in prison for a rape and murder they did not commit.

The two men, both mentally disabled and struggling to pay their bills, need the pardon from McCrory to be eligible for financial compensation from the state for the years they were wrongly incarcerated. McCrory received the petition September 11 of last year.

NC Policy Watch Courts and Law Reporter Sharon McCloskey explains the case and explores the possible reasons for the absurd delay in justice for McCollum and Brown in an in-depth story on NC Policy Watch today.


One of the more interesting quotes of the day came from Gov. McCrory’s Communications Director Josh Ellis in a story about the NC Chamber  siding with legislative leaders in their dispute with McCrory over appointments to key state boards and commissions.

Ellis didn’t mince any words about the decision by the NC Chamber, a group generally considered as a key ally of McCrory.

It’s a sad commentary that some prefer the good ‘ol boy system that is inefficient, unaccountable and unconstitutional,” McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said late in the day.

Yikes. That ought to go over well at the chamber headquarters.

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer

Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer

Should anyone in North Carolina be able to buy a handgun without undergoing any criminal background check? Apparently Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer thinks so.

The latest version of her bill to loosen North Carolina’s gun laws includes a provision that would repeal the requirement that handgun purchasers pass a background check. That provision was in the original bill she introduced, but she took it out of a version that passed a committee last week.

The latest version of the bill that will be heard before the House Appropriations Committee Wednesday morning has the absurd provision back in it, allowing virtually anyone who wants to buy handgun to get one with no background check at all.

The public clearly does not like this idea, as 87 percent of likely voters say they support background checks for all handgun sales.

The bill has plenty of other troubling provisions, like reducing the penalty for bringing a hidden and loaded handgun into a bar that explicitly bans them and restricting a medical professional’s ability to talk about firearms with patients—a proposal that the healthcare community is actively opposing as an infringement on the doctor patient relationship.

Schaffer doesn’t want doctors talking about guns and she doesn’t want sheriffs to be able to screen people who want to buy them either.  Anything goes when it come to guns. That seems to the plan. Never mind public safety.