The House today approved legislation that would clear the way for constitutional carry in the state, despite strong opposition from House Democrats who say the bill will make things more dangerous in the state.
The omnibus gun bill, which would codify current concealed carry permit law provisions into a new section that allows for permitless concealed carry for qualifying citizens, passed in the House in a 65-54 vote Wednesday afternoon.
The bill also includes changes to allow legislators and legislative employees to conceal handguns at the legislature, allow the governor and their family to keep firearms at the Governor’s Mansion and the Western Residence of the Governor, and to allow for concealed carry at houses of worship that also operate schools, with the proviso that the weapon be carried outside of the school operation hours.
During the hour and a half the bill was debated on the House floor, 13 amendments were brought, one of which was a technical corrections bill that passed 92-28. An additional dozen amendments brought by Democrats opposed to the bill.
Only one of the dozen amendments saw a vote on the House floor; the rest were tabled or have been held over for third reading debates on Thursday.
The only amendment to see a vote outside of Rep. Chris Millis’ (R-Pender) technical corrections bill was that of Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford), who brought forth an amendment to outlaw what her amendment called “high capacity magazines,” generally including magazines with a capacity of more than 15 rounds.
The standard size magazine for AR-type rifles and is 30 rounds and many full-size pistols have a standard capacity of more than 15 rounds as well.
Harrison debated the merits of reducing the capacity of standard magazines in the state under the banner of decreased casualties in mass shootings, but a vote quickly followed her remarks and the measure was defeated.
Her amendment would have allowed police officers to continue utilizing magazines of whatever capacity without restriction.
An additional five amendments were tabled during the debate, many of which contained language included in a gun control bill filed in the House earlier this session, including the magazine capacity limits.
One of the tabled amendments would have required gun owners to be responsible for knowing whether adults residing in their residence are legally allowed to possess a firearm, and being responsible for keeping the firearm away from them, just as they are responsible for securing firearms from minors.
Another tabled amendment would have stripped the right to possess a firearm from those who have misdemeanor convictions involving alcohol or controlled substances.
Another amendment would have increased the penalty for carrying a firearm on some state property from an infraction, which carries a maximum $500 fine, to a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.
Another tabled amendment would have banned legislators, legislative employees and former law enforcement officers from concealing handguns in the legislature while school groups were in the General Assembly, which is an extremely common occurrence.
Those five amendments were tabled and are dead for consideration on Thursday, but an additional six amendments that were filed when the House called a vote on the previous question are still on the table for discussion on Thursday.
Among those amendments are provisions that would cull the cut-out for legislators to carry firearms in the legislature, to direct a portion of concealed carry permit application fees, to preventing gun violence and more.
The House will return to the floor at 9 a.m. Thursday to take up the calendar, including a third reading vote on HB746.