Members of the General Assembly aim to carry concealed handguns at the legislature, elsewhere

Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort)

Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) told his colleagues Monday that district attorneys, assistant district attorneys, superior court judges, magistrates and clerks of court already can carry concealed while on duty. House Bill 47 (Concealed Carry in the General Assembly) would simply extend that authority to legislators and members of the North Carolina Council of State.

Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover) questioned why lawmakers felt the need for the added protection.

“We just spent – I don’t know what the tab was – on all these metal detectors and all these increased staff we have at the General Assembly,” said Butler.

“I trust Chief Brock to protect us. I think this is just a terrible idea.”

Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover)

Rep. Grier Martin (D-Wake) questioned whether the legislation would require any additional training beyond the concealed carry permit.

Kidwell’s answer: No.

“This bill simply says if they have a concealed carry permit, they can carry. And this is not just for the General Assembly. This is also for when you are out in public,” he said.

“The use of firearms in an environment like the General Assembly or other places does require in my mind more training than is provided in the concealed carry [class]” explained Rep. Martin. “Without that sort of training, I would actually feel less safe if this bill were to pass than it would without it.”

To obtain a conceal carry permit, the holder would need to complete an eight hour class plus range qualifications.

Rep. Mike Clampitt (R-Swain) said he felt the need for more protection on the campaign trail, and started wearing a bulletproof vest.

“It’s not so much here. It’s for when we are away from here. It’s for our protection. It’s for our family’s protection.”

Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) said he could see no reason that state legislators should undergo additional training that is not required of judges or DAs.

“This is not an extraordinary thing. It’s simple common sense,”  offered Arp. “My question is why in the world would you deny that to someone who has a concealed carry permit?”

House Bill 47 advanced on a divided voice vote and now moves to the State Government Committee.

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