Some lawmakers are uncomfortable with a bill making its way through the North Carolina House and Senate.
House Bill 111 is currently stalled in the House Finance Committee but supporters such as Grassroots North Carolina are pressuring lawmakers — through traditional and social media — to push the bill to a vote before the end of this legislative session.
Rep. Ken Goodman of Rockingham voted against the bill, but said he would bet it will become law if it gets a chance on the Senate floor.
“I just don’t see how that’s a good idea,” said Goodman on Tuesday, during an interview with the Daily Journal. “I’m all for 2nd Amendment rights but like any right, no right is absolute. I voted against it.”
According to Goodman, a similar bill came through the House two years ago, which gave municipalities the option to create ordinances allowing concealed firearms in parks within city limits. House Bill 111 would strip municipalities of being able to make that choice.
“There are lots and lots of cases where people with permitted handguns shot the wrong person,” argued Goodman. “It will probably become law if it gets to the Senate floor for a vote.”
Kevin Perry owns Holiday Restaurant at 414 S. Hancock St., Rockingham. He is not against his customers concealing handguns while dining at his establishment.
“As long as they have got a permit, it doesn’t matter to me,” said Perry. “They’ve gone through the class, they are considered mentally stable and they are not going to use it (their firearm) against me or my customers. They are carrying it for safety.”
Robert E. Lee, owner of Rockingham Guns & Ammo at 410 E. Broad Ave., Rockingham, said a permitted handgun holder could mean the difference between life and death in a restaurant. He brought up an incident about 15 years ago in Texas, where a person drove their SUV into the front of a restaurant and then got out and began shooting people.
“One lady said if she would have had her firearms, she could have saved her mom and dad, because both were killed,” said Lee. “That is incredibly sad. An individual who is licenced should be able to carry a firearm anywhere. The problem is the individual who isn’t licenced but will carry a firearm anywhere.”
Lee draws the line at alcohol, though.
“I do not agree with an individual drinking and carrying (a firearm) inside a bar,” said Lee. “That could get out of hand. Passions run high.”
According to North Carolina law, a concealed-carry permit holder may not carry their firearm and consume alcohol at the same time. Doing so can result in fines and the loss of the permit.
Senator Bill Purcell of Laurinburg said he has experience with firearms, but does not feel the need to carry one, especially not inside a restaurant with his family, and he is against having guns where alcohol is served.
“I’m not in favor of having handguns in places where we serve liquor,” said Purcell. “They just don’t go together. I don’t know why we would want to do that. I don’t know why we need guns in restaurants. I don’t feel like I’m in danger when I’m out at a restaurant in Rockingham with my family. I don’t feel threatened.”
Purcell, who spoke with the Daily Journal at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, said the bill had not yet reached the floor of the Senate.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.