The state House gave final approval to an omnibus gun rights bill Thursday after a short debate. The measure, House Bill 746, would recognize constitutional carry in the state, among other things, and the bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.
The victory in the House is somewhat lessened by the failure to secure a veto-proof margin; It garnered 65 and 64 votes on second and third reading respectively, falling short of the 72 votes needed, when the chamber votes in full, to override a gubernatorial veto.
The bill saw unanimous opposition from House Democrats but six Republicans joined the Democrats on third reading in opposition, bringing the vote to 64-51.
With 115 members voting on third reading, the bill would have needed 68 votes to clear a veto-proof majority.
The bill, if it passes the Senate, will almost certainly be vetoed by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, meaning the House, and possibly the Senate, will have uphill roads to actually vote HB746 into law.
So far the legislature has overridden all four of Cooper’s vetoes, but HB746 has seen opposition from gun control advocates and some police organizations, though misinformation from groups lobbying on the bill may have contributed to the police opposition.
Rep. Chris Millis (R-Pender), who is running the bill in the House, said that, after clarifying some of these issues, many of the law enforcement officials he spoke with softened their opposition to the bill.
An email promoting a petition from Progress NC claimed that the bill would remove the need to have a background check to buy a handgun in the state, but the bill did not make any adjustments to the way any firearms are transferred or sold in the state.
During the opening debate on the bill Millis said, “Before I begin to cover what is in the bill, I believe it is imperative, and most proper, to begin with what is not in this bill. Please note that this bill does not include any of the provisions impacting existing law involving the purchase of a firearm.”
Millis said that anyone looking to purchase a firearm would have to follow all state and federal purchasing laws, including background checks on all firearm purchases from firearms dealers. Also, all handgun purchasers will be required to obtain a permit to purchase the handgun.
In addition to establishing permitless concealed carry in the state, the bill would allow legislators and legislative employees to carry concealed handguns at the legislature, would allow the governor and his or her family to keep firearms at the Governor’s Mansion and the Western Residence, and would allow for concealed carry at houses of worship that maintain schools, outside of the operating hours of the school.
The change will open up concealed carry at many churches, synagogues, and mosques that maintain pre-schools or elementary and secondary private schools on their premises.
During the debate on Wednesday, Democrats brought a dozen amendments to the bill, one of which was defeated and five of which were tabled.
The remaining six were left on the table for discussion at third reading on Thursday but each of the half-dozen, all filed by Democrats, were withdrawn before the vote, leading to a quick approval for the bill on third reading.
The only amendment to see a vote outside of Millis’ 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 any capacity without restriction.