Dueling Bills In NC Legislature Reignite Gun Debate

Dueling Bills In NC Legislature Reignite Gun Debate

7:38am Mar 07, 2019
A bill that would allow some school teachers and staff to carry a handgun on school grounds is among proposed legislation being discussed by North Carolina lawmakers. KERI BROWN/WFDD

Two competing gun safety bills were recently introduced in the state legislature. There’s also proposed legislation that would allow school teachers or staff with a valid concealed carry handgun permit to be armed on campus.

WFDD’s Keri Brown is following the controversial measures. She spoke with Joe Killian, an investigative reporter with NC Policy Watch in Raleigh, who is tracking the bills.

On what’s in House Bill 86, The Gun Violence Protection Act:

Some version of the Gun Violence protection Act has been filed pretty much every year since sandy Hook and it’s yet to get a vote, it’s been logged up in committee. But some of the most important things that it would do from the perspective of the people who would like to see it pass, is it would make it a misdemeanor to fail to store a firearm in a secure locked container when it’s not in use, it would require gun owners to report as lost or stolen weapons that they realize have been lost or stolen within 48 hours, it would require gun owners to carry liability insurance, it would allow law enforcement to destroy firearms when they seize them, and it would allow cities and counties to establish their own rules  on where guns are permitted.

On What’s in House Bill 61:

This is a competing omnibus bill that has been backed by some very conservative Republican legislatures and it is also a version of a bill that has been repeatedly beaten back a number of times, with the help of law enforcement actually. Last year we saw a version of this that would have just done away with concealed carry permits altogether and this version is a little different. It moves the age from 18 to 21 first of all, which is something the bill’s advocates hope will move some votes because that was disturbing to people last time that it was 18.  And it’s not what gun rights advocates call a true constitutional carry bill in that you are just allowed to do it anywhere and under any circumstances, you know there are circumstances where in you would have to have a permit or you would be restricted, but it would open things up, which is what they would like to see.

On the likelihood the bills will pass in the legislature:

The omnibus gun safety bill seems less likely, because you would have to really move a lot of votes, Republican votes are very hard to move on this issue and that’s why we haven’t seen it come to a vote in previous years. The other one, it’s more likely because of tweaks that you could see it. It passed the House last time, it didn’t get a vote in the Senate, but you could see it with some tweaks maybe passing, but the thing is North Carolina now has a Democratic governor Roy Cooper and there were some gains in the General Assembly through the last election that broke a veto proof super majority in the general Assembly, so it’s a lot harder for Republicans to overturn his vetoes now.

On another gun bill that would allow some teachers and staff to carry a handgun in classroom:

Every time there’s a mass shooting and the Parkland shooting the most recent terrible mass school shooting that happened at a school anyway, sort of reinvigorates this debate. And there’s another bill tat has some of the same sponsors House bill 216 that is called the School Self-Defense Act that would allow faculty or staff at a school to carry a handgun on the school grounds to respond to acts of violence or imminent threat of violence and that’s been very controversial even among teachers.

They would need to complete 16 hours of active shooter training in the school faculty guardian program developed and administered by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission and they would need to also show that they have had drug testing

It’s just a clash of ways of looking at this. It’s a classic left right divide of course, but it’s also an urban rural divide. But the general clash of ideology that we are seeing is how do we respond to these shootings? There is one side that says when we have these mass shootings we should of course respond with bringing in some what they would call common sense gun safety laws. And there’s an opposing side that says well, people who are criminals or who are going to be mass shooters aren’t going to pay attention to laws, so what we need to do is make it easier for people who want to defend themselves with guns to have those guns wherever it is they might need to defend themselves.

*You can follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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