Senate OKs terror claims, armed Guard members

Posted August 4, 2015

— The state Senate on Tuesday approved measures allowing civil claims against a terrorist or accessory and allowing some National Guard members to carry concealed weapons at recruiting centers and offices.

House Bill 371 would allow anyone who suffers personal or property damage as the result of an act of terror to sue the terrorist as well as any conspirators or accessories for triple the amount of actual damages or $50,000, whichever is greater, as well as for court costs and attorney's fees.

The measure defines a terrorist as "a person who commits an act of terror, including a person who acts as an accessory before or after the fact, aids or abets, solicits, or conspires to commit an act of terror or who lends material support to an act of terror. "

It defines an "act of terror" as a violent or dangerous activity that "appears to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping."

Sponsor Sen. Buck Newton, R-Wilson, said the bill "is designed to create further disincentive and deterrence to terrorist action in this country."

He noted that, while terrorists are often killed in their attacks, “those that help them sometimes have assets."

An amendment by Sen. Dan Soucek, R-Watauga, added a provision allowing the adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard to authorize designated members who already hold concealed carry permits to carry weapons during the course of their duties at recruiting centers, offices and armories.

"They are an actual target without the ability to defend themselves," Soucek explained.

Recruiters for federal branches of the military are not allowed to carry weapons under a federal policy directive from 1992, which limited the carrying of weapons by military and civilian defense personnel to those engaged in policing, security or prison work. However, because the state's National Guard is under the state's control, state lawmakers can set policy for those service members.

The proposal passed 42-0 after some wrangling over an additional, unrelated policy provision that was slipped into the National Guard amendment. It would allow the state's Rules Review Commission to hire outside legal counsel without first getting approval from the governor and attorney general.

Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, argued that the outside counsel provision "will squander taxpayer dollars" and objected to combining the provisions in one amendment.

"Are we going to allow the National Guard to protect themselves, or are we going to protect taxpayers?" he protested. "I wanted to do both those things."

Stein tried to remove the outside counsel provision with a parliamentary maneuver, but it was quickly shot down by another parliamentary maneuver by Senate Republicans. The provision stayed in the bill.

The proposal now returns to the House for concurrence.

The N.C. National Guard's public information office did not immediately respond to request to WRAL News's request for comment.


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