The state House on Thursday gave its final approval to a bill relaxing concealed handgun laws, but its future is uncertain.
House Bill 746 now goes to the Senate, which may or may not give it consideration. Even if it passes the full General Assembly, the bill did not receive as many votes in the House as it would need to override a veto.
Gov. Roy Cooper has not said whether he would veto the bill, but he has expressed concerns about it. He recently tweeted: “Gun safety training is critical. I agree with many in law enforcement that this proposed law is troubling.”
Before Thursday’s vote, the N.C. Fraternal Order of Police announced that its executive board in an emergency meeting earlier this week voted to oppose the bill. The organization, with more than 7,600 members, said it rarely takes a position on proposed legislation, but that HB 746 “goes too far.”
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It would endanger the lives of law enforcement officers, the FOP said.
The change would eliminate the need for concealed-carry permits for adults who are at least 18 and are not otherwise prohibited from owning firearms, except where open-carry is barred. That would change current law that requires concealed-carry applicants be at least 21 and complete firearm safety training to obtain a permit.
The bill would also allow assistant district attorneys to bring concealed weapons into courtrooms and legislators and their staffs to bring them into the Legislative Building if they have concealed weapon permits.
Thursday’s floor session on the proposal was brief, following a 90-minute debate on Wednesday that resulted in a 65-54 vote with eight Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the bill. Thursday’s vote was 64-51, with six of the same Republicans breaking ranks and two with excused absences.
Neither of those margins would meet a requirement that three-fifths of voting members support a bill to override a veto.
House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson of Knightdale encouraged his caucus to try to convince senators to make changes in the bill, using as a guide the amendments Democrats had hoped to discuss before Republican leaders blocked them on Wednesday.