GREENSBORO, N.C. — North Carolina House representatives were expected to vote on House Bill 189 pertaining to concealed carry permits.
That mandate has recently been canceled.
Republican lawmakers advanced legislation Tuesday to make it to where anyone would be able to carry a concealed handgun without getting a permit from a local sheriff.
This comes barely a month after the Republican-controlled General Assembly agreed with gun-rights groups and repealed — overriding Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto — another kind of permit issued by sheriffs before someone could buy a pistol.
Those groups now are lobbying to eliminate the concealed handgun permit mandate, which has been in place in North Carolina for nearly 30 years.
The bill would also lower the age that someone can carry a concealed firearm from 21 to 18.
There are 27 states that already allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.
The measure cleared the House judiciary committee by a 7-4 vote despite opposition by the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, which calls the vetting necessary to help deputies know who may be armed.
Gun-control advocates say our state needs to strengthen concealed carry permitting system - not eliminate it.
"We've seen what happens in states where they've weakened or repealed their concealed carry weapons permit. They see an increase of about 10.8% higher firearm homicide rate gets worse at 29% higher firearm violent crime rate," said NC Against Gun Violence Executive Director, Becky Ceartas.
They said statistics show that getting rid of the permits would mean higher rates of gun-related homicides, violent crimes, and gun thefts.
A sheriff must issue a five-year permit to an applicant that meets several qualifications.
They must have completed a qualified training course, avoided convictions of felonies or other specific crimes, and lack a mental or physical disability that prevents a weapon’s safe handling.
Sheriffs have 45 days after receiving an applicant's mental health records to issue or deny a permit.
Those qualifications and others would remain in place in the bill. But it would be up to the weapon's holder to comply with them.
Organizations who agree with the bill say it will free up the ability of people to protect themselves.
President of Grass Roots North Carolina, a non-profit organization, Paul Valone said, "I think the biggest impact will be the fact that because people don't have governmental permission slips to exercise a fundamental civil right."
The permitting process itself wouldn’t be removed from state law. It would remain in place for people who still want a permit as evidence to qualify to hold a concealed weapon in another state.
Concealed carry instructor Dontae Donnell says his business would get impacted.
"It’s going to impact the business and I’ve seen that from previous states. But if it’s good for the community, I hope people still seek training,” Donnell said.
It also can help speed up the criminal background check process before buying a gun.
There are several places where concealed weapons would remain prohibited, such as government buildings and places where concealed weapons prohibition signs have been posted.
The bill would eliminate the prohibition against carrying a concealed weapon in establishments where alcohol is served as long as the handgun holder isn't drinking.
The bill also would allow any elected official — including a legislator — to carry a concealed handgun when performing official duties. But they must still obtain a permit from the local sheriff.