An omnibus bill that would increase the penalties in certain crimes involving firearms, but would also relax some firearm restrictions, is set to be heard by the state’s House Judiciary Subcommittee A on Wednesday.
House Bill 937, titled Amend Firearm Laws, was filed on April 11 and is sponsored by State Representatives Jacqueline Schaffer, of the 105th District; Justin Burr, of the 67th District; John Faircloth, of the 61st District and George Cleveland, of the 14th District.
If passed, the bill would increase penalties for certain crimes where a gun is used or displayed, or the threat to use or display a gun is made.
The increase in penalties would depend upon the classification of the felony. According to the bill, if the felony is a Class A, B1, B2, C, D or E, the minimum term of prison time would increase by six years. The maximum term of imprisonment would be the maximum term that corresponds to the minimum term after it is increased by six years. If the felony is a Class F or G, the minimum time spent in prison would increase by three years and if the felony is a Class H or I, the minimum term of imprisonment would increase by one year.
The bill would also, “… make it a criminal offense for anyone to permit a child to have access to or possess a firearm without supervision and parental consent.”
The legislation would allow a person with a valid concealed handgun permit to have a concealed handgun in a locked vehicle in a state government parking lot, have a concealed handgun in a locked compartment in a vehicle on a college campus, carry a handgun into an assembly where an admission fee is charged or an establishment where alcohol is sold and consumed, “… unless the person in legal possession or control of the premises has posted a notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on the premises,” the bill says.
An employee of a college, who lives on campus, would also be allowed to carry a handgun on the employee’s residential premises and also keep the gun in the employee’s locked vehicle in the parking lot of the college.
North Carolinians Against Gun Violence opposes the bill. “It is an attempt to place guns in sensitive areas and weaken local government authority over CCW in their communities,” the organization said.
The National Rifle Association said, “While this legislation is not perfect as introduced, the NRA remains in close contact with its sponsors and the House Leadership to ensure that it is amended to the point that it represents a clear advancement of the gun rights of law-abiding residents of North Carolina.”
State Representative Ken Goodman, of Rockingham, said that if the bill gets to the floor, “… I don’t believe I would vote for that.”
Goodman said that he supports the 2nd Amendment and he believes people should have conceal carry permits but, he said he doesn’t believe people should be able to have firearms on college campuses. “I also don’t believe that alcoholic beverages and weapons mix,” he said.
Robert Lee, owner of Rockingham Guns & Ammo, said he agrees with certain parts of the bill, but “… with alcohol and firearms, there should be no relationship whatsoever.”
“When you have firearms and alcohol and men and women together, it’s too easy for emotions to come into play and there’s no place for emotions with a firearm …,” he said.
Lee pointed out that there are always fights at bars and having a firearm would create panic.
He went on to say that employees of colleges, high schools and elementary schools should be allowed to carry a handgun as long as they are legally certified and able to carry one because it will enhance security.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.