Worried they wouldn't get the votes needed to repeal the state's pistol permitting system and further loosen other gun control measures Monday evening, wingnuts in the House again delayed a vote on House Bill 562.
"This bill's got a lot of moving parts," Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer,
(R-Mecklenburg), a sponsor, told House Speaker Tim Moore before he granted her request to send the bill back to the House Rules Committee for further review.
Schaffer's right to be worried. Members of her own party, including pro-gun Rep. Leo Daughtry
of Johnston County voted against the bill initially in Rules, which it passed last week by one vote. Gov. McCrory has said he opposes the bill as well.
The cornerstone of the bill to amend firearms laws is a provision that would do away with the state's pistol permit application system, whereby anyone who wants to buy a handgun currently, from either a federally-licensed arms dealer or a private individual, has to obtain a pistol purchase permit from their county sheriff or a state-issued concealed handgun permit.
Instead, starting in 2018, federally-licensed arms dealers would need only to run a a screening through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NCIS) before selling handguns, and by 2021, there would be no regulation on gun sales between private parties.
If that sounds crazy to you, you're not alone.
The North Carolina Sheriff's Association has come out strongly against the bill, arguing that it would be easier for the wrong kinds of people to access firearms. They say background checks undertaken by sheriffs when handgun permits are issued are more comprehensive than the national system's. Sales of firearms at gun shows also require a sheriff's permit currently; without the pistol permit, there would be no official way to track who is buying firearms.
The bill also would allow lawmakers and their staff to carry handguns in the legislative buildings; it would allow some judges and prosecutors to bring permitted handguns into courtrooms; it would citizens to sue their cities and counties for enacting ordinances that contradict the bill if it passes; it would allow non-violent misdemeanants to obtain obtain handgun permits and would reduce the penalty for bringing a firearm into a prohibited space from a misdemeanor to a minor infraction with a maximum $500 penalty.
And, in a nod to the reasonable, the commissioner of agriculture would be given the discretion to ban bringing handguns into the state fair.
Expect a vote on the bill late this week or next.