LAURINBURG — In a state where one can legally carry a firearm in the open, lawmakers will soon vote to end the need for concealed handgun permits.
North Carolina representatives are likely vote on House Bill 746 next week. The bill will abolish the need for concealed hang gun permits.
The legislation, approved by a House judiciary committee on Wednesday, is intended to allow people to carry concealed guns in places where they are currently able to carry in the open.
“I think you have a right to carry a handgun and I am not challenging that, but to get away from the state screening process… I am very concerned about that,” said Rep. Garland Pierce, whose District 48 includes Scotland, Hoke, Richmond, and Robeson counties.
The current law, 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.
“Guns don’t kill people, but it is the person behind the gun,” Pierce said. “I do understand that, but I am very concerned. There is going to be a long debate on that bill (House Bill 746) I can tell you that.”
Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said he thinks the current system works well.
“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.
Kersey said the new bill could put law enforcement officers in greater risk during traffic stops. 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. “I think the requirements right now are perfect the way they are.”
The bill also will change the current law requiring concealed-carry permit holders to be 21-years-old to 18-years-old.
“I do agree with 18-year-olds being able to get a concealed carry permit,” Kersey said, citing his belief that 18-year-olds can join the military and give the “ultimate sacrifice.”
To conceal a weapon in North Carolina, were permits have been granted since 1995, individuals must carry their permit and a valid form of identification at all times, disclose the fact that they have a valid concealed handgun permit when approached by a law enforcement officer.
Concealed handguns may not be carried in law enforcement or correctional facilities such as a prison, any space occupied by state or federal employees, including state and federal courthouses, schools or on school grounds, in areas of assemblies, parades, funerals or demonstrations, in any place where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed if the premises are posted as prohibited, any area where concealed handguns are prohibited by federal law, any place of business that has posted a sign banning concealed weapons.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171