Legislation that expands the public places where people with permits to carry concealed handguns can bring their weapons, toughens the penalties for some gun crimes, and strengthens federal background checks passed the House and Senate on Tuesday night.
Missing from the compromise bill worked out between the two chambers was the Senates controversial provision that would have repealed the current law that requires county sheriffs to conduct background checks and issue handgun purchase permits.
The votes were largely along party lines. The House voted 73-41, and the Senate 32-14.
The bill allows those with concealed-carry permits to bring their guns onto school campuses from kindergarten to college if they keep the weapons in a closed compartment in their locked vehicles. Police chiefs from public university campuses across the state opposed the provision.
It also allows concealed-carry permit-holders to bring their weapons into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, and to parades and funerals. And it restricts local government from banning concealed handguns in parks and greenways.
The states sheriffs dropped their opposition to House Bill 937 after the provision repealing the pistol permits was dropped. In its place is a provision allowing sheriffs to revoke the five-year licenses if someone subsequently becomes ineligible for qualifying for a permit, such as committing a serious crime.
Sheriffs will also be required to keep a list of the number of permits they deny and the reason for denying them; but the identities of the applicants will not be public.
The legislation also speeds up the requirement for court clerks to report to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System disqualifying mental health findings. The bill now goes to the governor.
Staff writer Craig Jarvis
Charter bill passes both chambers
Legislation heading to Gov. Pat McCrory allows North Carolina charter schools to follow the lead of traditional schools on criminal history checks for employees.
A negotiated final version of the bill passed the House and Senate on Tuesday. It creates more rules to govern public charter schools, but drops plans to create a separate panel to oversee them.
The proposal retains the current requirement that at least half the teachers at charter schools meet state certification requirements. Earlier versions of the bill would have allowed charter school directors to decide whether to check job applicants for any criminal history.
Senate approves Wake school bill
The Senate, voting 33-16, approved a bill that allows the Wake County Board of Commissioners, not the school board, to oversee school construction. The House still needs to concur.
Previously, lawmakers wanted to make the change in nine counties, including Wake. But that bill was delayed in the House, so Senate Republicans inserted the provision shortening it to only affect Wake County into an education funding bill.
Staff writer Annalise Frank