It is, in a General Assembly session featuring lots of high-handed behavior on the part of majority Republicans, still a “good grief” moment. Charlotte Republican Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer has put in a bill to dramatically ease North Carolina’s already loose gun regulations. The provisions in her legislation are nothing short of astounding in terms of their downright bizarre intent.
Consider: Schaffer, who is apparently carrying all the water for the anti-regulation crowd in this legislative session, would allow prosecutors with concealed carry gun permits to carry weapons into the courtroom. Thankfully, most prosecutors would pass on the option out of common sense, not to mention that courtrooms generally include a sheriff’s deputy, armed, on duty. Pistol-packing prosecutors? Perhaps Schaffer just liked the way it sounded.
Prosecutors are in the courtroom to do the people’s business, to protect the public by upholding the law and to see to it that defendants get a fair hearing. They are in a courtroom, not in a gunfight on Main Street in Tombstone, for goodness’ sake. This idea is absurd – and might it not also be dangerous to everyone in a courtroom if someone in the room somehow managed to get hold of a firearm? The justice system is supposed to make society safer, not courtrooms more dangerous.
It’s true judges can have pistols, something that isn’t the greatest idea, either, but at least judges are behind a bench and some distance from others in the courtroom.
Another provision from Schaffer would expand the bad law allowing people with permits to carry concealed weapons onto school grounds by banning schools from being able to prohibit weapons in cars if they wished.
Schaffer also would not allow local officials to add noise restrictions to shooting ranges beyond those in effect when they opened. Now there’s an idea guaranteed to keep new business and development away.
It gets worse. The standards for getting a concealed carry permit would be lowered, in terms of how a criminal record might affect an application. Misdemeanors, for example, would prevent someone from getting a concealed carry permit only for three years, except for domestic violence convictions. Other misdemeanors such as harassing jurors, some disorderly conduct offenses or impersonating a fireman would no longer be cited to deny a permit. And carrying a concealed handgun onto private property would be reduced to simply an infraction instead of a misdemeanor.
And then there’s the invasion of doctors’ offices. Under Schaffer’s plan, doctors would not be able to use a written questionnaire to ask patients whether they have guns in their houses. There would be fines and possible action by medical licensing boards. Doctors treating a person suffering from depression and other such issues need to seek all the information possible to determine whether the person might be a danger to himself or others.
This is absurd, not to mention an invasion of doctor-patient confidentiality.
Lawmakers need to put this bill back in the holster.