Two new NC House bills filed in February aim to repeal state constitutional regulations on concealed carry firearms for anyone over 18 years of age.
The more recent, HB145, is entitled “Repeal Const. Reg. of Concealed Weapons,” and cites the Second Amendment for its grounds.
HB145 was preceded earlier in February by HB69, the “Constitutional Carry Act,” which sought the same outcome in longer form.
Both bills have Reps. Michael Speciale (R-Beaufort, Craven, Pamlico), Jay Adams (R-Catawba), and Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) as primary sponsors, with Rep. Beverly Boswell (R-Beuford, Dale, Hyde, Washington) primary-sponsoring only HB 69.
“A gun is a tool,” Pittman said, regarding his sponsorship of HB69, as quoted by the Charlotte Observer. “It is only as good or bad as the intentions of the person carrying it. Concealed or open carry makes no difference, except that if we can carry concealed, criminals and terrorists have no idea which lawful citizens just might fight back. The government should not interfere with our freedom to do so.”
The permit-issuing system would remain in place for those who travel to states requiring concealed-carry permits.
Pittman has filed similar bills in the past, which were fruitless. He attributed this failure to the bill’s attempt to amend the state constitution, and stated that he hopes that this version will pass with added support in the House.
Under current NC law, those seeking a concealed carry permit must take a gun training class, demonstrate knowledge of firearm safety, and then pass a firing range test and background check.
Co-primary sponsor Rep. Speciale promoted the bill as part of an NC Constitutional clean-up, which also includes HB146 – which clarifies a citizen’s loyalty to the US constitution over government – and HB148 – which repeals a constitutional passage requiring a citizen to be able to write parts of the state constitution in English.
“All of these proposed changes will be put to the people by ballot if they pass the General Assembly,” Speciale said, as quoted by WBTV.
The bill met with pointed criticism from NC Democrats, stating that current regulations were common-sense and not overly restrictive.
“I disagree with the bill’s intent to interfere with the state’s regulation of the concealed carrying of firearms,” Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford) stated. “I think this would prevent reasonable measures to keep the public safe and could lead to harmful results. It is in the interest of North Carolinians’ health and safety that I oppose this bill.”
Others cited public safety concerns that could be introduced by greater concealed firearms.
“I believe that every assurance must be given to provide for the safety of NC’s citizens, while allowing for responsible gun ownership,” Rep. Amos Quick (D-Guilford) stated. “Any provision that takes away from the assurances of safety is, in my opinion, a bad idea. HB 145, therefore, is a bad idea, and I do not support it.”
The bill has also met with mixed reactions from law enforcement officials, who stated that training is a valuable part of firearm possession.
“A gun is a tool, a powerful tool,” Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said, as quoted by NC Policy watch. “To just put that in the hands of anyone who is 18, even if they’ve had no safety training, no proficiency, no training in what the gun laws are? That’s not going to make the public safer and it’s not going to make my officers safer.”
No sponsors of either bill responded to email requests for comment.