RALEIGH — North Carolina is a step closer to allowing people to carry a concealed handgun in certain places without a permit.
On a 64-51 vote, the House gave its final approval Thursday on the measure. It would allow someone at least 18 years old and not otherwise prohibited by law to carry a concealed handgun in locations where it’s currently permissible to openly carry a gun.
Scotland County representatives in the House, Garland Pierce and Ken Goodman were among the 51 Democrats to vote against the measure.
The bill needs Senate approval before it could go to Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration.
Gun control advocates and some law enforcement agencies oppose the measure, citing concerns with safety and training.
Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said he is OK with the current system that requires those who wish to obtain a concealed carry permit to completed classroom instruction, learn how to handle a handgun, clean a handgun, as well as submit their finger prints to the FBI database.
“I am a big supporter in the Second Amendment, but I believe this bill puts a lot of people in danger, more than the way it is now,” Kersey said last week.
Kersey said the change could put law enforcement officers in greater risk. With the current system, those carrying a firearm openly must display the gun were the police can see it, and concealed-carry permit holders must announce where they keep their gun, according to the sheriff. However, without the training obtained in concealed weapons classes, Kersey fears individuals can have a weapon anywhere.
“Lets just take away drivers licenses and tell everybody that they can drive,” Kersey said.
The bill also will change the current law requiring concealed-carry permit holders to be 21-years-old to 18-years-old.
Supporters say the bill does not alter the existing permitting structure and would allow concealed carrying of guns wherever open carrying of guns is allowed in the state.