Raleigh, N.C. — For a second straight day, House members engaged in a long, emotional debate Wednesday over legislation that loosens state restrictions on who can carry a concealed weapon and where those weapons can be carried.
After close to six hours of debate over the two days, the House voted 78-37 in favor of House Bill 562, sending it to the Senate for further consideration.
The House dismantled the most controversial provisions of the bill on Tuesday, including one that would have eliminated the requirement that handgun buyers obtain a pistol purchase permit from their local sheriff and another that would have allowed lawmakers and their staffers to carry concealed weapons at the legislature.
Several other amendments were proposed Wednesday, but after lengthy discussions about school shootings, mental health and legal fees, only a couple minor changes were made to the bill.
When debate began on the bill itself, things quickly got personal.
"I just don't understand where some of you people's minds are going to," Rep. Gary Pendleton, R-Wake, said to bill opponents.
"I'm one of 'you people,'" Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, shot back, expressing disgust at how regulations he worked for years to get on the books were steadily being eroded by the Republican-led legislature.
Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, who had stepped in for House Speaker Tim Moore, had to remind members that House rules don't allow them to call one another out during floor debates.
"This bill, this legislation, has brought out the worst in all of us," Rep. Susi Hamilton, D-New Hanover, said later during the debate.
Both gun-rights backers and gun-control advocates quoted statistics and related anecdotes about concealed weapons and violence to buttress their respective arguments.
"People are safer when more good people have guns and bad guys know they've got to be careful," said Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford.
"We know more guns equals more violence," said Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange.
Reps. Yvonne Lewis Holley, D-Wake, and Rodney Moore, D-Mecklenburg, discussed the alarming rate of gun deaths in minority neighborhoods, but Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, said violence like that existed long before guns were invented.
"That's like saying the way to get rid of obesity is to get rid of the forks. Forks are not the problem," Jones said.
Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, even discussed his son's suicide this year, saying he didn't want his personal tragedy to affect anyone's Second Amendment rights.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, noted that the Second Amendment doesn't give people the right to carry a concealed weapon, while Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, said lawmakers should focus on ways to make North Carolina communities safer instead of on ways to allow people to defend themselves.
"Having a gun doesn't necessarily make you safer or anyone around you safer," Hall said.