HB 111, the bill in the North Carolina State House that would allow concealed carry in restaurants that serve alcohol and would allow concealed carry in parks, passed out of the House Judiciary A Subcommittee today.
Grass Roots North Carolina issued a full report on the subcommittee hearings including news on all amendments this evening.
In a bruising battle fought by both legislators and GRNC’s Legislative Action Team, HB 111, “Handgun Permit Valid in Parks & Restaurants” fought its way out of the NC House Judiciary A Subcommittee and now heads for a floor vote as early as tomorrow. Both strengthening and weakening changes were made to the bill.
REP. HILTON’S SUBSTITUTE
Working with GRNC, bill sponsors Mark Hilton (R-Catawba, ****), Jeff Barnhart (R-Cabarrus, ****) and Fred Steen (R-Rowan, ****) produced an enhanced version of HB 111 which included concealed carry not only in municipal parks, but in state parks as well. The substitute was quickly adopted as the working vehicle for the bill.
Anti-gun Reps. Deborah Ross (D-Wake, GRNC 0-star), Bill Faison (D-Durham, **), and Larry Hall (D-Durham, 0-star) tried to tie up the bill with repeated questioning and with contradictory and shifting amendments. Ross demanded that, in restaurants, servers ask diners ordering alcohol whether they are carrying firearms. In a confusing array of amendments to amendments, ultimately the committee passed an amendment to the bill under which restaurants MAY but are not REQUIRED to ask those ordering alcohol of their status. As noted below, GRNC will vociferously oppose even this weakened language on the House floor.
An equally confusing series of amendments was offered by Faison, who tried to remove both municipal and state parks from the bill. After Hilton, Barnhart and Steen opposed Faison’s proposals, they ultimately failed in an 8-5 vote.
In an effort to tie up the bill, Faison repeatedly dogged bill sponsors with questions about why permit-holders need to protect their families in restaurants, demanding unavailable crime statistics and complaining “Where’s the problem?” Hall painted fanciful pictures of shootouts between patrons in restaurants, and demanded exclusion of parks for the sake of “youth groups,” saying he didn’t want permit-holders “further endangering” kids.
But leading the charge to subvert gun owners’ ability to protect themselves was Ross, who claimed support for her weakening amendment from the Restaurant Association (whose lobbyist then stood to oppose the Ross amendment), and whined that concealed carry is specifically exempted from the right to keep and bear arms enumerated in the North Carolina Constitution.
UPDATE: Gary Robertson of the Associated Press has more on the bill passing out of committee and the opponents reactions to the bill.