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General Assembly considering two bills widening spaces allowing for concealed carry

The senate and house bills would allow churches with private schools to permit concealed carry. Current law allows churches to permit guns, but not if there is a school inside the building.
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 7:13 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - Two bills making their way through the General Assembly would make it easier to have guns in more places.

Senate Bill 43 and House Bill 134 would close a state loophole to permit churches with private schools inside to allow concealed carry, but only if school is not in session.

Current law allows concealed carry inside churches, but not if there is a school inside.

“This bill is just a common sense piece of legislation that gives churches an extra layer of protection,” said Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir County), one of the sponsors of the bill. “I think it’s as much of a deterrent to have a whole bunch of folks in the church house with loaded weapons.”

The practically identical bills passed procedural votes almost entirely along party lines.

The house bill also allows EMS to carry guns on SWAT missions and would extend the timeline for concealed carry permit holders to renew their license if it expires.

“We voted on three bills in a row and all of them were to ease the requirements and make it easier for someone to carry a gun,” said Rep. Kandie Smith (D-Pitt County). “It’s a different story if someone was really trying to take away someone’s Second Amendment right, but no one is trying to take that away. There’s no bill out trying to restrict someone having a gun.”

Democratic opponents of the bill, including Smith, are calling for the bills to stop in their tracks. They’re saying the tragic situation in Boulder, Colorado Monday, where a grocery store shooting left ten people dead, is further evidence for stricter gun laws, not looser ones.

“Opponents are making this into something that it’s not,” said Humphrey. “It’s not the wild, wild west, it’s to let God-fearing, law-abiding citizens who are practicing their religious freedom to feel protected.”

The last time the General Assembly passed a similar bill, it was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper over the summer. Since then, state Republicans have picked up seats in both chambers, but not enough to override a veto, if Cooper chooses to use it again.

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