RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – The idea that North Carolinians would be allowed to carry a concealed, loaded weapon without having a permit appears to be holstered for this legislative session.
In a surprise move Wednesday, the NC House pulled House Bill 189 – the so-called “NC Constitutional Carry Act” – before its scheduled floor vote, one of more than 50 bills that were in the lineup.
During the session, House Speaker Tim Moore said he was removing the bill from the calendar and returning it to the Rules Committee, which means it failed to pass the House before Thursday’s deadline to move bills to the other chamber.
Why Moore took this action is unclear, but Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) told reporters that the earlier repeal of the pistol purchase permit – which was accomplished by overriding a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper – was perhaps enough new gun laws for now.
“We have passed a substantial bill dealing with some concerns about (the) Second Amendment. We’ve done away with the pistol purchase permit, which was the No. 1 goal of many of the gun rights groups for a long period of time,” Berger told The News & Observer. “I just don’t know if there’s a need for us to delve into additional issues dealing with guns and people’s Second Amendment rights.”
He told the newspaper that he thinks “people have a constitutional right to protect themselves, utilizing weapons. I think that law-abiding citizens can be trusted to handle those rights responsibly. I just don’t know that the timing is right for us, at this time, to move forward with additional gun legislation.”
The N&O said that Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, a group pushing the bill, blamed the National Rifle Association for the removal of the bill from the calendar. He said the NRA didn’t like the training provision in the bill.
HB 189 had sailed through two committee hearings on a fast-track sprint to a floor vote before the crossover deadline.
The bill, which was filed on Feb. 23, says in its summary that its intent is to “protect a person’s right to carry a concealed handgun without a permit and to continue allowing persons to acquire a concealed handgun permit for the purposes of reciprocity or for any other reason desired.”
HB 189 would have repealed all existing language about conceal-carry permits and would require only that a person be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years old to carry, which Kidwell says a federal court ruling has specified must be the limit.
The bill does specify that felons, fugitives and those under the influence of drugs, including marijuana and alcohol, can’t carry a concealed weapon.
During one hearing Valone had called the bill a “relatively modest bite at the apple.” But the North Carolina Council of Churches and the North Carolina Sheriffs Association both were against the bill.
Other key bills
Several other bills moved along from one chamber to the other during spirited votes on Wednesday night. The House met until nearly 10 p.m. to handle more than 50 bills. The Senate acted on another dozen bills. Both chambers will be back this morning for further consideration.
There was engaged discussion on several bills on Wednesday night, and most votes were along the partisan divides, with Republicans holding supermajorities in both chambers.
Here is what happened with some of the most significant pieces:
- Senate Bill 636, the bid to continue restructuring oversight of high school sports – an update of HB 91 that was signed by Gov. Cooper in 2021 – was passed in a 30-20, party-line margin Wednesday afternoon, but not before an amendment was added to further limit the power of the NC High School Athletic Association.
- House Bill 808, which limits treatment for transgender children passed the House in a vote of 74-44 – two Democrats voted for it – after an emotional debate that caused such an outbreak that Moore slammed his gavel and threatened to clear the room. There are two other bills – one to do with sports participation and another about physicians’ treatment of transgender patients – that remain under consideration.
- The Senate passed SB 692, which transfers much of the power of oversight for the state’s community college system from the governor’s appointments to legislative appointments. Sen. Amy Galey (R-Alamance) restructured the bill on Wednesday, before it was approved and sent to the House, to limit the power that had been outlined for the system president.
- One bill that didn’t get a vote was House Bill 715, the “Higher Education Modernization & Affordability Act,” which would remove tenure status from UNC system professors and change them to contract status. The bill was held up in committee and didn’t make the crossover deadline.