House bill would repeal some local background checks for handguns
Posted May 30
Updated May 31
Raleigh, N.C. — Republican House lawmakers are trying again to repeal the state's requirement for a concealed carry permit to carry a concealed handgun in most cases.
House Bill 746 is scheduled to be debated in the House Judiciary IV Committee at some point Wednesday afternoon after the budget committee meeting has ended. The measure did not meet the crossover deadline in April, but sponsors initially added a $100,000 appropriation for "outdoor heritage promotion" to allow the bill to remain alive under House rules. (That, however, was removed from the final version to be heard Wednesday night.)
The measure would remove the state's requirement for a concealed carry permit, changing state law to say that any U.S. citizen 18 or over who legally owns a gun can carry it concealed anywhere he or she can carry it openly in most places, except where prohibited.
The currently required permit is issued through a county sheriff's office, which conducts a criminal background check and looks for records of mental illness or incapacity. The requirement has long been a sore spot with gun rights advocates, who say it gives sheriffs too much power to deny gun owners what they say is their constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon.
Backers of the bill say the state permit required to buy a handgun won't change, so there will still be a background check at that point. But the additional check performed during the issuance of the concealed carry permit would no longer happen.
Guns purchased through a licensed dealer would still require a federal background check, but those checks aren't required for purchases from non-licensed sellers at gun shows or for private sales. Gun control advocates say the concealed carry permit offers extra backup for those sales and ensures that gun owners have basic safety training.
The measure would also redefine the crime of "going armed to the terror of the people" to stipulate that it would not apply to someone simply because he or she is carrying a handgun.
Under the version of the bill to be discussed Wednesday, according to a copy provided to WRAL News, the state would be able to require permits in some locations "where additional education and training are necessary to ensure public safety," but the bill doesn't specify what those locations might be.
In cases where a permit might still be required in the future, the bill adds limits on what can be asked of applicants. It would also forbid a sheriff from denying a pistol permit on grounds of mental disability or mental illness unless the applicant has been declared by a court to be a danger to himself or herself or to others, or unless the applicant has a diagnosed disorder that could make him or her a safety risk.
The proposal would allow legislators, legislative employees and former law enforcement officers to carry weapons at the legislative complex, even on chamber floors, as long as they have a concealed carry permit. However, the public would be banned from carrying weapons at the legislature, as well as on the grounds of the courts, the State Capitol and the governor's residences.
Similar legislation has been introduced each session since the GOP took control of the General Assembly in 2011. So far, however, the bills have not progressed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said the legislation would affect the pistol purchase permit as well as the concealed weapon permit. That is incorrect and the story has been corrected.