Bill seeking to end N. Carolina concealed gun mandate halted

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An effort to do away with the requirement that anyone who wants to carry a concealed handgun get a permit from their local sheriff could be derailed for the two-year legislative session after a House floor vote planned for Wednesday was cancelled.

The measure had cleared two House committees since Tuesday, but House Speaker Tim Moore referred the bill back to one of those panels Wednesday evening.

The proposal was backed by gun-rights groups but opposed by gun control advocates as well as the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.

Earlier Wednesday, Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters that he’s unsure there’s a need to address additional Second Amendment issues at this time after a significant gun-rights law was enacted weeks ago.

Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill ending a requirement that people secure permits issued by sheriffs before a they could lawfully purchase a pistol.

The repeal “was the No. 1 goal of many of the gun-rights groups for a long period of time,” Berger said. “I just don’t know that the timing is right for us at this time to move forward with additional gun legislation.”

A sheriffs’ association lobbyist told House committee members Tuesday that making the concealed permit process optional would make it harder for law enforcement officers to know who in their communities may be armed.

The bill was among dozens being considered Wednesday, the day before the General Assembly’s self-imposed deadline designed to separate measures that have a decent chance of becoming law over the next two years from those that don’t. Ideas unrelated to taxes, spending and some other categories that don’t pass at least one legislative chamber by Thursday face long odds to advance through the end of 2024.

For nearly 30 years, North Carolina has directed people to obtain a concealed weapons permit if they wish to carry a hidden pistol. The measure would have essentially made it optional by telling people they could carry concealed if they met certain qualifications.

Those included completing a training course, avoiding convictions of felonies or other specific crimes and lacking a mental or physical disability preventing the safe handling of a weapon. The bill also would have lowered the minimum age for concealed carry from 21 to 18.

Twenty-seven states already allow people to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, according to the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

Gun-rights groups believe eliminating the permit requirement is in keeping with the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Critics of the bill say scrapping the permits would lead to more violence and homicides.