Raleigh, N.C. — State lawmakers have already filed seven bills dealing with firearms this year, only one of which would at all restrict gun ownership in some way.
"I think you'll find a very receptive audience at this General Assembly," Rep.Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, told a rally of some 500 gun-rights supporters behind the legislative building Tuesday.
If the speeches by the handful of lawmakers who addressed the rally are any measure, Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, is trying to earn the title as the "most receptive" member of that legislative audience.
"The Second Amendment does not give you the right to keep and bear arms. It only acknowledges that God gave you that right," Pittman said, garnering cheers from the crowd. Pittman said that, if someone is a law-abiding citizen, "It's nobody's business, especially the government's, what guns you have or how many or where and how you carry them."
To that end, Pittman outlined an amendment to the state constitution he would like to offer. He said it would strike language that provides for the regulation of concealed handguns and replace it with a sweeping statement of gun rights.
"The carrying of concealed weapons shall not be prohibited by the State of North Carolina except in courthouses, in federal government buildings where the federal government prohibits weapons, in privately-owned buildings where the owner has posted prominently displayed signs forbidding concealed weapons on their premises, or on school campuses by persons' not authorized to carry on school campuses," Pittman read from his proposal. He added, "The reason I have those exceptions in there is I don't think it has a ghost of a chance if I don't put that in there, not because I want it there."
Pittman said his amendment would also put the power of the state behind gun rights.
"Any attempt to disarm the law-abiding citizens of the State of North Carolina shall be resisted by the full power of the State of North Carolina, and citizens who have committed no crime have the right personally to resist confiscation of their weapons," Pittman read.
Constitutional amendments must pass by three-fifths of both the House and Senate before going to a popular vote.
Pittman also endorsed legislation that would allow certain teachers to carry guns on school property, and he floated the idea of creating "constables," concealed handgun permit holders with extra training who would be able to carry their guns into places where guns are currently prohibited, such as banks.
Pittman also outlined why Second Amendment rights were so important, saying that the founders knew no matter how good a government system they put in place, it could be corrupted, and citizens would need to resist.
"I hope and pray that never happens, that we never actually have to fight the government for our freedom," Pittman said. "But if we do, if they're going to be coming at us with fully automatic weapons, we ought to at least have semiautomatic weapons to respond. I want you to have the ability to deter those who wold impose tyranny upon you."