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Concealed carry bill far from dead

The latest legislative session ended last week with HB 746 [1]– the omnibus gun law bill – still bottled up in the Senate Rules committee.

But the bill, which would allow North Carolinians to carry concealed handguns without a permit under most circumstances, is one of a number of bills that is likely to resurface as lawmakers come back to Raleigh for special sessions over the next two months.

Gun rights activist groups are telling their members that the fight for the bill is far from over and encouraging them to lean on legislators who oppose the bill – especially Republicans.

The bill poses a political dilemma [2] for GOP legislators. It passed in the House, but not with enough support to overturn a near certain veto from Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, should it ever reach his desk. In a veto override scenario, Republicans who voted against the bill would have to decide whether they are willing to reverse their position to spite the governor. It would also mean facing off with some of the state’s most popular and most conservative law enforcement officers [3], from the Republican sheriffs of some of the state’s largest counties [4] to the N.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.

If you haven’t yet read the recent editorial by Jacksonville Police Chief Michael Yaniero [5], it is worth your time. In it Yaniero, who is president of the state association of police chiefs, says the current permitting system – which was put together by Republicans, Democrats and law enforcement in the 1990s – has worked and should stay in place.

From the piece:

Guns in dangerous hands can be deadly. This bill would increase the likelihood of individuals having firearms that shouldn’t have them in the first place. It is our view that the disastrous consequences of having more guns in the hands of people who may be mentally or emotionally unfit to have concealed weapons outweighs the convenience of everyone else who wants to have a concealed gun without having to pay a small permit fee, undergo a background check and receive some training.

North Carolina is our home and our goal is to make it as safe as possible. As it is written now, H.B. 746 will make that goal more difficult. The current permit system is a balance of public safety needs and allowing concealed carry for the responsible people who hold concealed permits. The North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police is concerned with public safety and the safety of officers. The right thing is to protect the public and to protect our officers.

While bills like this one have failed in previous sessions, Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike – to say nothing of law enforcement officers – say they’re disturbed by the current rhetoric on the issue and some of the debate on the current bill.

Whether the bill has a future – in its current or some amended form – will be determined this summer.