Raleigh, N.C. — The state House used 30 minutes Wednesday morning to debate and pass a resolution that takes the federal government to task for pursuing legislation that imposes restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
"Whereas, the President and Vice President of the United States, as well as members of Congress, have proposed adopting laws, regulations, or actions that would have the effect of infringing on the right of Americans to keep and bear arms," the resolution reads in part.
The resolution has little force of law and merely expresses the sense of the House on the matter. It will be printed and sent to North Carolina's members of Congress. There is another measure expanding the number of places those with concealed handgun rights can carry firearms under consideration by the General Assembly, but that bill is in a House-Senate conference committee.
This measure, say its sponsors and supporters, is merely meant to make the point to federal officials that people in North Carolina favor gun rights.
Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, pointed to the fact that the Bill of Rights was passed just after the Revolutionary War, when Americans had to fight off British rule.
"There might be a time when the people might have to fight for their freedom again against the government," Pittman said.
In a second set of remarks, he said, "Gun control laws only protect criminals and/or tyrants."
The resolution passed 73-35. Typically, resolutions pass unanimously, but some members said they could not back this particular measure.
"I think the word 'whereas' should have factual statements behind it," Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford said, adding that this resolution contained opinions.
"I think it's a lot of paranoia," he said.
Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, the resolution's primary sponsor, said the document merely expresses the sense of the House that the constitution should be upheld.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, asked Speciale if there were specific federal laws about which he was concerned.
"Any gun laws coming from the federal government are infringement," Speciale replied, adding that gun laws should be left to the states.
Glazier objected to that notion.
"There's nothing in the Second Amendment nor any of the cases that suggest that's the case," he said. "There are certainly huge numbers of firearms laws on the books at the federal level that protect a lot of people."
Rep. Ted Davis, R-New Hanover, a former assistant U.S. attorney, said he understood many of the objections coming from opponents of the resolution. In particular, he said, it is unclear whether the state is asking that existing federal laws be repealed.
"I prosecuted people for violating federal gun laws," he said, asking if sponsors might change language in the resolution to say that people's rights to "lawfully" keep and bear arms wouldn't be infringed.
The measure wasn't amended.