Rep. Larry Pittman (R-Cabarrus) has filed a bill in the House that would establish Constitutional Carry – the legal concealment of a handgun without a permit.
The bill, HB 69, is co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Speciale (R-Wake), Rep. Beverly Boswell (R-Beaufort), and Rep. Jay Adams (R-Catawba).
The bill would essentially take the existing law on concealed handgun permits and maintain it, but without the need for the permit document. This change would remove a financial burden from those intending to conceal a firearm to protect themselves, and would also help to combat the lack of uniformity from county to county, as sheriff’s departments differ in how fast they process permits and which get approved.
The only substantive change to concealed carry law under the bill, besides removing the need for the permit, is the change to allow those who are 18 years old or older to conceal a handgun, whereas under current law a resident of the state must be 21 to apply for a concealed handgun permit.
The proposed law would also apply to non-residents of the state as long as they were U.S. citizens.
Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, who has been pushing for constitutional carry for years, said that the change will keep in place all of the disqualifying factors from the current law, such as having a DUI conviction in the last three years or convictions on domestic abuse and felony charges.
Also, anyone who is not legally allowed to own a firearm will not be legally allowed to conceal a handgun under the law. Carriers would also still be required to inform law enforcement officers that they were concealing and would not be able to carry that handgun anywhere that is currently not allowed.
“We’re not breaking new ground here. This would make North Carolina the 12th state to approve permitless concealed carry,” Valone said. “It does not open up any new areas to concealed carry. It simply codifies the existing law as it is, but without a permit.
“Missouri just did it and in all 11 of these states there has not been a problem. Every time there has been a change to concealed carry law the Left has predicted blood in the streets, and every time they have been wrong. The bill is deliberately limited in scope.”
And the bill is more limited than a similar bill field filed last year by Pittman, HB 1148, which would have also added strengthening language to the state Constitution mirroring the Second Amendment.
Valone says that the bill will not change anything in the state except it will remove the expensive burden of getting the permit, which includes an application fee and also paying for the state-mandated training course.
Valone also said the proposed measure will take away the ability of sheriffs who oppose concealed carry to delay granting permits.
“As it sits right now, a lawful citizen to get a permit has to spend hundreds of dollars and sit for months to get a permit because many sheriffs are holding up permits intentionally,” Valone said.
As far as the bill’s chances this session, Valone said that compared to last session, besides the bill being cleaner overall, the main difference is that the Governor’s Mansion is occupied by a Democrat, Roy Cooper.
What if the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association goes to Cooper to get a veto on the bill, which will cut down a source of revenue for the sheriffs and arguably remove one of their powers? Valone said the Republican-led legislature may be more likely to override a Democratic veto than a veto by a governor of their own party, as could have happened if Pat McCrory were still in office.