Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pro-Freedom Firearms Bill About to Move to Floor in NC House? (UPDATE: YES!)

House bill 937 in the North Carolina House is good for firearms freedom; our friend Sean Sorrentino down yonder at An NC Gun Blog, and David at NCRenegade have the down-low on it.  Sean opposes the bill, calling it "mixed, mostly negative", but the GRNC appears to be supportive.  Put me in the supportive category, at least until we see what amendments get added.

GRNC says:
No, it isn’t perfect, but it is pretty good. This bill will get us badly needed restaurant carry, clean-up state-wide uniformity on parks carry to eliminate abuse by anti-gun municipalities, and will allow employees with permits to keep handguns locked in cars while working at higher education facilities. 
Yes, we want more, such as storage at work for everyone, but this represents progress in the direction of freedom.

I contacted all the members of the NC Judiciary Subcommittee A, which is responsible for moving the bill to the full house, and received a very nice reply from Rep. John Blust:
Thank you for contacting me regarding House Bill 937, Amend Various Firearms Laws. I am the Chairman of the Judiciary A Committee which is holding a hearing to move the bill tomorrow, April 24, at 10:00 a.m., so I do support the bill. 
Representative John M. Blust
House District 62
Room 2208 Legislative Building
Raleigh, NC 27601
UPDATE #1 4/24/13 5:00 EDT:

From our friend John at No Lawyers Only Guns and Money:

The NC State House's Judiciary A Committee approved a measure this afternoon that would significantly expand gun rights in North Carolina. HB 937 would allow (among other things) concealed carry holders to have firearms on university and community college campuses so long as they were locked in their vehicles.
Representatives of the National Rifle Association, Grass Roots North Carolina and other gun owner rights groups endorsed the bill during the committee hearing, saying it granted changes long sought by gun owners.

"With respect to the campus provisions on this bill, frankly, it's more limited than we wanted," said Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, adding that his group still supported the bill. "The entire purpose of this is deterrence. We are looking at deterring violent sociopaths from crimes on campuses."

The campus provision applies to all public community college and university campuses in the state. Independent colleges and universities would have the choice of whether to allow firearms on campus but would have to post a prohibition.
John adds,
The bill would also allow carry in restaurant and eating establishments that serve alcohol as well as clarify the General Assembly's intent on park carry.

UPDATE #2 4/24/13 9:00PM EDT:

Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC), our bulldog of a state civil rights organization, has issued an alert on the bill.  Text below, but it looks like anti-gun forces tried to stop it from coming out of the Subcommittee:

After lengthy debate and after rejecting numerous anti-gun amendments, the NC House Judiciary A Committee today passed House Bill 937. The bill will now head to the House floor for a vote, likely next week.

In its present form, HB 937 would expand concealed carry into: 
  • Restaurants 
  • Assemblies of people for which admission is charged [movies! -BWE
  • College campuses (provided firearms are kept in locked vehicles); and 
  • Parking lots of state office buildings.
HB 937 would also clean up flaws in the parks carry language passed in HB 650 under which municipalities continue to flout the law by banning guns in entire parks.

During sometimes rancorous debate, Representatives Darren Jackson (D-Wake , GRNC 0-star), Deborah Ross (D-Wake, 0-star) and others proposed amendments designed to be “poison pills” for the bill. 
All failed. 
Most surprising was an amendment by Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell, ****) who supported the bill, but objected to provisions allowing concealed handgun permit-holders to keep firearms in locked vehicles on college campuses. [WHAT?! -BWE]

Sponsors Jacqueline Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg, ****), Justin Burr (R-Montgomery, Stanly, ****), John Faircloth (R-Guilford, ****), and George Cleveland (R-Onslow, ****) did an outstanding job of defending the bill. Addressing the committee in favor of the bill were GRNC president Paul Valone, Director of Development Josette Chmiel [Josette is delightful and a powerful advocate for the RKBA -BWE], and representatives for the NRA and NCRPA.

In testifying against the bill, North Carolinians “Against Gun Violence” director Gail Neely perjured herself to the committee by regurgitating a study which she claimed dealt with concealed handgun permit-holders, despite the fact that Valone had two weeks ago produced a copy of the study for her (and audience of an ACLU forum) demonstrating clearly that her claims were false.

Rep. Jackson introduced anti-gun amendment after anti-gun amendment in an attempt to “run the clock” on the bill until he was shut down by Committee Chair Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford, ****), who brought the bill to a vote.
Hopefully, restaurant carry gets farther in the NC House than it did before.

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