RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – State House lawmakers will debate a bill this week that would enable people in North Carolina to carry a concealed handgun without a permit as long as they’re legally allowed to possess a gun.
The NC Constitutional Carry Act would make it optional for people to go through the permitting process, that includes training, testing and fingerprinting. It also would allow 18-year-olds to carry a concealed weapon, while current law only allows people 21 and older to obtain a concealed carry permit.
“No governmental permission slip should be required to exercise a fundamental civil right,” Paul Valone said, the president of Grass Roots North Carolina.
The permits would still be available for people who want to obtain one, for example, to be able to carry concealed in other states that still require a permit and recognize the one issued in North Carolina.
Valone noted 27 other states have enacted laws similar to the constitutional carry bill being considered in North Carolina.
“It would be detrimental and dangerous,” Becky Caertas said, the executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence. “This is simply unacceptable that some are treating this as a partisan issue, that this is something trivial or no longer needed for some reason.”
The House Judiciary 2 Committee will consider the bill Tuesday. This comes just a few weeks after Republicans voted to eliminate the state’s pistol purchase permit requirement by overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
The bill also allows state lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in places they’re currently not allowed, such as the legislative building.
“There are a number of different places including government buildings where you cannot carry a concealed weapon, and it should stay that way,” Caertas said. “But, the problem becomes if people are being intimidated by people carrying guns, or worse yet, if something were to happen.”
Valone argued the bill is necessary because some sheriff’s offices have taken too long to process permit requests. He noted his organization has filed four lawsuits attempting to address that issue.
“Right now, under our current system, a woman who wants a concealed handgun permit to protect herself, it’ll take 45 days or more,” Valone said. “We feel that this will better allow people to protect themselves even in cases where the sheriff opposes them getting a permit.”
Valone noted there has been discussion of adding what he called a “nominal training requirement” to the bill, but he declined to elaborate on what that would include. CBS 17 contacted Republican Rep. Keith Kidwell, one of the bill’s lead sponsors, about that but did not yet receive a response.
CBS 17 also contacted the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association to see if the organization is taking a position on the bill but did not yet hear back.
The House and Senate have set a deadline for Thursday for bills to pass out of their respective chambers in order to still be considered viable for the remainder of the legislative session.