Sarah Kate Purnell
On Monday, March 27, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow gun owners to carry weapons to churches co-existing on school grounds.
HB174 would allow individuals with concealed handgun permits to bring their weapons onto the school grounds, but only while there were no school related activities in session.
The bill is backed by Rep. Rena Turner (R-84), as well as Rep Justin P. Burr (R-67), Mike Clampitt (R-119), Jeff Collins (R-25), John Faircloth (R-61), Cody Henson (R-113), Pat B. Hurley (R-70), Burt Jones (R-65), Larry W. Potts (R-81), David Rogers (R-112), and Phil Shepard (R-15).
On these grounds, where places of worship and schools co-exist, the place of worship would still have the authority to ban firearms from their properties.
Gun control advocates have expressed disapproval to the bill and rather suggested a bill that states guns are banned from schools and churches, unless otherwise welcomed.
The law currently states that firearms are not permitted on school grounds; however, a legal gun owner is authorized to have one stored in their parked vehicle if desired.
According to the News & Observer, the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Turner of Iredell County, stated that a church in her district requested the bill.
“They’re a very welcoming church – no snakes, no funny business going on,’ but some of its overseas missions make members worry the church might become a target for terrorists,” Turner said, according to the News & Observer. “They feel particularly vulnerable at their services. They want their security team to be able to protect their parishioners if there should be an emergency.”
HB174 passed in the House with a 82-34 vote.
“I voted against this bill out of major concerns about the proliferation of guns and against, especially, them now being allowed, by law, in places previously prohibited for good reason,” Rep. Amos Quick (D-58) of Guilford County stated.
The vote was backed by all Republicans and opposed by almost all Democrats.
“I voted against H.B. 174 because I do not believe it was in the best interest for North Carolinians with regard to health and safety,” Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-60) of Guilford County stated.
“I worry that this bill will create unsafe situations on school grounds.”
The bill will next go to the senate for a vote. If the bill becomes law, it would become effective December 1, 2017.