Rep. Chris Millis (R-Pender) says his more-aggressive constitutional-carry bill is similar to Rep. Larry Pittman’s (R-Cabarrus) legislation, but is not in competition with it. Millis said his bill is meant to be a practical approach to passing a law that will allow citizens to conceal a handgun in the state without a concealed handgun permit (CHP).
“House Bill 201 is an effort to strengthen all constitutional-carry proponents’ ability to see the concept go into law by way of multiple vehicles and advocacy,” he said of his measure. “The approach to House Bill 201 was to introduce a bill that made a strong effort to get at the concept of constitutional carry as much as practically possible, not to be more aggressive than other approaches.”
Millis said he informed Pittman that he “planned to take a fresh look at ‘constitutional carry’” in the new session and that he fully supports Pittman’s HB69.
“Know that I am a supporter of HB69 and an ally of Rep. Pittman’s efforts, not an opponent, and would be just as thrilled to see HB69 be signed into law,” he said. “There is a strategy to the effort and it has nothing to do with competition.”
While many have said that Millis gave Pittman’s bill a facelift, and indeed much of the language is very similar, Millis said that drafting on his bill, HB201, was under way well before HB69 became public and that he did not review HB69 while drafting HB201.
One of the two major differences between the two is that Millis’ bill would eliminate the pistol purchase permit system, putting handguns under the same regulations as long guns. This idea has been unpopular with the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, which seeks to maintain the system, because it is a source of revenue and gives sheriffs more control over who gets handguns in their counties.
The second major difference is that under Millis’ bill classes such as district attorneys (DA) that are already afforded many of the enhanced concealed-carry privileges that police officers have, allowing them to carry in more places than a permit-holder from the general public can, would still need a permit to make use of their special allowances.
Millis said this is a philosophical difference in that he believes that the purpose of his legislation is to put all law-abiding citizens on level ground and the special carve-out for some people doesn’t fit into that.
“While drafting House Bill 201, the underlying principle was to put all law-abiding citizens on the same level ground when it comes to their ability to carry open or concealed. Therefore, when approaching the ability for some special classes within existing to carry ‘deeper’ than the average citizen, the approach was to require those special classes to have a concealed handgun permit,” he said.
“For example, the citizen who also happens to be a DA would have the same rights as all other citizens to carry open or concealed in all places permitted by current law, but if that DA wanted the ability to carry deeper than the average citizen in places [where] the current law allows only allows special classes like DA’s to carry, then that DA would need to have a CHP in order to carry deeper than the average citizen. When approaching House Bill 201, the effort was to be simple, clean, and clear, unlike our current laws concerning firearms.”
Millis, in a release, said he believes the current permit system is an unnecessary encumbrance on law-abiding citizens that hinders them from protecting themselves and their families when criminals are already disregarding the law.
“Current law allows a citizen who is legally able to possess a firearm to be able to carry a firearm open to plain sight, commonly called open carry, but when that citizen holsters a firearm in a manner that is not open to plain sight, then that citizen is breaking the law unless they have a Concealed Handgun Permit,” Millis said.
“A significant amount of time and money is required for law-abiding citizens to obtain a CHP,” he continued. “Meanwhile criminals, who by definition do not follow the law, illegally possess and carry firearms however and wherever. So the question is, Why do we require law enforcement to focus their efforts on permitting law-abiding citizens to be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights when their efforts could be totally focused on catching criminals?”