Under the Dome

Gun bill passes House, moves on to Senate

After another long and often heated debate, the state House gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that clarifies the rights of gun-owners and allows district attorneys to carry concealed weapons in court.

The House passed the bill 78-37, largely along party lines. No Republicans were against the bill. A handful of Democrats supported it. It now goes to the Senate.

The measure had been watered down Tuesday by a handful of amendments, many from Republicans.

Lawmakers had removed a provision that would have repealed the pistol permit system that requires handgun buyers to get permits from their local sheriff. And they took out another that would have allowed lawmakers and their staff to carry concealed weapons in the legislature.

Lawmakers Tuesday also had voted to keep a lifetime ban on getting a concealed weapons permit for people convicted of misdemeanors involving domestic violence.

Current law bars people convicted of certain violent misdemeanors from getting such a permit. The bill initially changed that to a three-year ban for all misdemeanors. Lawmakers kept the lifetime ban for crimes such as stalking, assault on a female and domestic criminal trespass.

But as passed, the bill made other changes such as prohibiting local governments from passing gun laws stronger than the state.

“There’s still a lot of good stuff in this bill,” said Republican Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County. “It is a bill that supports the rights of our citizens.”

But even with a watered-down bill, not everybody was happy.

“This is a much improved bill, but is still a bad, unnecessary, insane bill,” said Rep. Rodney Moore, a Charlotte Democrat.

Other measures in House Bill 562 would:

▪ Allow a person to carry a pocketknife in a closed position into the Old State Capitol Building.

▪ Clarify that individuals with concealed handgun permits who are carrying a concealed handgun on educational property in compliance with the law may move a handgun from concealment to a closed compartment and vice versa, even if it is momentarily not concealed.

▪ Authorize the Commissioner of Agriculture to prohibit the carrying of firearms on the State Fairgrounds during the State Fair.

Jim Morrill