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Constitutional carry bill fails to advance in North Carolina

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And not because the GOP supermajority in the North Carolina House voted it down. Lawmakers never had the chance to vote on the bill on the House floor after the Republican leadership pulled the bill from consideration ahead of a Thursday crossover deadline.

During the session, House Speaker Tim Moore said he was removing the bill from the calendar and returning it to the Rules Committee, which means it failed to pass the House before Thursday’s deadline to move bills to the other chamber.

Why Moore took this action is unclear, but Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) told reporters that the earlier repeal of the pistol purchase permit – which was accomplished by overriding a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper – was perhaps enough new gun laws for now.

“We have passed a substantial bill dealing with some concerns about (the) Second Amendment. We’ve done away with the pistol purchase permit, which was the No. 1 goal of many of the gun rights groups for a long period of time,” Berger told The News & Observer. “I just don’t know if there’s a need for us to delve into additional issues dealing with guns and people’s Second Amendment rights.”

The repeal of North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit law was a big deal, but it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation no matter what Moore says. Democrats in anti-gun states certainly aren’t using a “one and done” strategy when it comes to putting new gun control laws in place; Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has already signed four gun bills into law, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed at least two gun control bills this year, and California lawmakers are expected to send multiple bills to Gavin Newsom’s desk in the coming weeks as well.

And by not bringing HB 189 up for a vote in the House before the Thursday deadline, Moore has effectively killed off the legislation for next year as well. Under North Carolina’s two-year system, any bill that failed to pass out of its chamber of origin by the end of business yesterday cannot move forward until 2025, so HB 189 looks to be on ice until then. I suppose its possible that a new bill could be filed next year that would accomplish the same thing, but it’s hard to see how GOP leadership would be any more amenable in 2024 than they are now.

According to Moore, there was a “difference of opinion” among the GOP caucus on the language of the bill that would have prevented it from passing with a veto-proof majority, and the sticking point appears to have been a training requirement added as an amendment in an attempt to mollify some lawmakers and law enforcement who had opposed the bill. That amendment apparently drew the opposition of the NRA, though it was supported by state 2A group Grassroots NC.

Valone indicated that the National Rifle Association had concerns about education requirements that had been added to the bill on Tuesday while it was considered by a House committee.

“We are disappointed that the NRA, which has been largely absent in this session of the General Assembly, swooped in at the last minute and declared the bill unacceptable, due to the training provision we had added,” Valone said. “We are continuing to work on the bill, it is still alive, and we are by no means done.”

D.J. Spiker, the NRA’s North Carolina state director, said in response that the NRA “will never apologize for refusing to compromise on an issue as critical as Constitutional Carry.”

I’m not a fan of mandatory training, but I also think it’s a bit rich for Spiker to say that the NRA will never compromise on Constitutional Carry given that the group was perfectly fine with Florida’s permitless carry bill leaving out open carry despite efforts by Second Amendment advocates and groups like Gun Owners of America to add a repeal of the open carry ban to the legislation signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year. That was a pretty hefty “compromise”, but it still resulted in a major improvement to the status quo, and the same is true of HB 189. It might not be everything Second Amendment activists want, but in my opinion it’s better than the current law.

It’s also a moot point, at least for this session. Hopefully by the time Constitutional Carry can be re-introduced in the state 2A groups are on the same page. We can’t afford to be fighting amongst ourselves right now when the media, the gun control lobby, and Democrats nationwide are making a full-frontal assault on our right to keep and bear arms.

 

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