NC Bill exempts lawmakers and others from concealed weapon limits :: WRAL.com
RALEIGH, North Carolina – Elected politicians in North Carolina who hold concealed weapons licenses – including members of the General Assembly – would be allowed to bring their weapons to currently prohibited places, under a law approved by a committee on Monday judicial process of the House.
Local prosecutors, judges and court workers already receive special exemptions from state rules that prohibit concealed licensees from bringing firearms to schools, parades and funerals; at any federal or state government building, or at any establishment where alcohol is served. Local sheriffs issue permits that last for five years. Beneficiaries must receive special training.
If the measure becomes law, already exempt public servants would be joined by “any person who is an elected official or a person appointed to fill an elected office” in North Carolina when “acting in the performance of his official duties.
This includes all elected municipal, county and state officials, including the 10-member State Council, which includes the governor and the lieutenant governor. This would allow members of the General Assembly to legally carry their concealed handguns while conducting business inside the Legislative Building and the adjacent Legislative Office building, which otherwise prohibit firearms except for the forces of the order.
But the bill would also apply to lawmakers returning to their districts while conducting government business, such as holding meetings with voters in an area that otherwise prohibits concealed weapons.
Three unidentified members of Council and “many” members of the House have requested the permit exemptions, according to the bill’s main sponsor, Republican Keith Kidwell of Beaufort County. Kidwell has said he has received death threats in the past and expects other colleagues to do so as well. Another co-sponsor, Swain County GOP Representative Mike Clampitt, said he wore a bulletproof vest during the election campaign last fall.
âI would just say that while I believe in a much nicer, gentler society, we don’t seem to be heading down that path right now,â said Rep. Dean Arp, a Union County Republican. âIt’s just common sense. And my question is, why on earth would you deny this (right) to someone who has a concealed carry permit and who is otherwise legally qualified? “
Opponents of the bill have focused on the part of the measure that would allow armed lawmakers in their offices, committee rooms and floors of the House and Senate. The legislative complex has undergone significant security upgrades over the past three years, with the installation of metal detectors at main entrances and identification badges for lawmakers, staff and the media.
âWe have just spent untold dollars to protect our means of entry and exit. And we have a robust police force, âsaid Rep. Deb Butler, a Democrat from New Hanover County. I just think it’s just a terrible idea. “
It would be up to a prosecutor or jury to determine whether an elected official was actually performing an official function at the time the person was armed if he was accused of having otherwise violated the concealed weapons law. The bill still prevents elected officials from carrying their weapon concealed inside a school or on educational grounds. District attorneys and judges can even arm themselves in these places.
Under legislative rules, the measure, which now goes to another committee, must pass the full House on Thursday or the idea is essentially dead until the next two-year session begins in 2023. The bill marks another effort by Republicans in the General Assembly to ease restrictions on concealed weapons or the purchase of a firearm. The House last week approved a bill that would end the sheriff’s licensing process before anyone can buy a pistol.