Under the Dome

NC House delays action on gun bill with budget addition

A bill that would loosen gun laws in North Carolina got a longer lease on life Wednesday night, when an N.C. House committee voted to add a $20,000 appropriation to the measure.

That means the bill will make it past the “crossover” deadline Thursday, under which a non-fiscal bill must pass at least one chamber to be considered. The gun proposal is now a fiscal bill and can get a House vote later this year.

Charlotte Republican Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, one of the bill’s main proponents, has said it is an attempt to protect Second Amendment rights in North Carolina. But gun control advocates have strongly opposed the bill, which North Carolinians Against Gun Violence called “this year’s worst gun legislation” on Wednesday.

Schaffer said giving the bill more time will let sponsors nail down language around background check requirements. The bill would repeal some sections of North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit requirements.

The bill would change some gun regulations in North Carolina, including by:

▪ Allowing prosecutors and administrative law judges with a concealed carry permit to carry guns in courtrooms, and allowing hunters to use suppressors on short-barreled rifles.

▪ Prohibiting doctors from using a written questionnaire to ask patients if they have guns in their house, including psychiatrists. The bill would fine doctors $250 for asking unintentionally and $500 for asking intentionally, and allow medical licensing boards to discipline the doctor. Doctors could ask orally, but would be prohibited from sharing that information with anyone.

Schaffer said that was an attempt to balance privacy with physicians’ need to talk with patients.

“Some individuals are being asked these questions and feel it violates their privacy rights,” she said.

▪ Specifying that shooting ranges are only subject to noise restrictions that were in effect when they opened, not restrictions passed later.

▪ Misdemeanors would only prohibit a person from getting a concealed carry permit for three years, except for domestic violence convictions. Some misdemeanors, such as harassing jurors, impersonating a firefighter or some disorderly conduct offenses, would no longer be cause for denying a concealed handgun permit. Carrying a concealed handgun on private property where guns are banned would be reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction punishable with a $500 fine, and sheriffs would be required to provide pistol purchase permit and concealed carry permit applications electronically and issue those decisions within 90 days.

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Twitter: @ESPortillo