The NRA Institute for Legislative Affairs released a Legislative Alert this evening that summarized the wins – and losses – for gun rights in the “short session” of the North Carolina General Assembly. Their conclusion that this session fell short is on the mark given the bottling-up of HB 111 in the committee by the Republican leadership of the State Senate. The failure to pass HB 111 is one thing that cannot be blamed on the Democrats as the votes to pass this bill were there.
The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned on Tuesday, July 3, bringing an end to the “short session” of the 2011-2012 General Assembly. While the General Assembly made tremendous improvements for the pro-gun community during last year’s “long session”, the same cannot be said for their accomplishments in this year’s session. Raleigh did see passage of one pro-gun bill this year, however, another important piece of firearms legislation remained stalled in a Senate committee, which effectively killed that bill.
Unfortunately for gun owners, House Bill 111, which included language that would have removed the absolute prohibition on Right to Carry (RTC) permit holders carrying a concealed firearm into a restaurant licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption, remained stalled in the state Senate this year despite passing the state House of Representatives last session. As reported here, this bill passed in the Senate Judiciary II Committee in early June, but was never brought to the Senate floor for consideration. The committee did use HB 111 to address an issue relating to the section of last year’s House Bill 650 (reported on here) that imposed restrictions on prohibiting RTC permit holders from carrying firearms in parks under the control of local governments. Because some local governments have gone beyond what HB 650 allowed, HB 111 was amended to impose tighter restrictions on these localities. If it had been enacted, this bill would have, along with providing for Restaurant Carry, clarified that local governments are restricted from prohibiting lawfully carried concealed firearms in such places as greenways, designated biking or walking paths, certain open areas and fields, as well as other areas. With HB 111 not passing, an important opportunity to advance the rights of law-abiding gun owners was missed.
On a more positive note, this session the General Assembly passed and Governor Perdue signed into law House Bill 843, which recognized law-abiding citizens’ right to self-defense during a declared state of emergency. Specifically, H 843 states that the restrictions section of the North Carolina Emergency Management Act “does not authorize prohibitions or restrictions on lawfully possessed firearms or ammunition.” This means that, if there is a declared state of emergency due to natural disasters or other problems that create a state of disarray and unrest that requires emergency procedures to be implemented by a government entity, the rights of law-abiding gun owners will no longer be subject to possible suspension, as previous law allowed.
The win in Bateman forced the exclusion on restrictions on firearms in HB 843. While it was nice that it was put down on paper, I believe Judge Howard’s decision would have invalidated existing restrictions.