The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned for the year on Tuesday, August 11, and will be back for their Short Session on May 12, 2010. This year was very busy for NRA, as a number of pro-gun reforms were introduced. While many pro-gun bills failed to be considered, there were several successes. First, House Bill 1132 was passed, then signed into law on July 17 by Governor Bev Perdue (D). This law will now ensure that if a Right-to-Carry permit holder applies to their sheriff for renewal of a permit within 90 days of the permit’s expiration, and the renewal application is not approved or denied by the expiration date, the permit will remain valid until the renewal decision is final. The law will also require sheriffs to notify permittees at least 45 days before their permits expire. Finally, should a permittee fail to apply to renew a permit before the expiration date, the permittee may apply within 60 days following the expiration of the permit, and ask the sheriff to waive the requirement of taking another firearm safety training course.
Another pro-gun reform passed by the General Assembly was House Bill 473. This legislation, which is awaiting action by Governor Perdue, would allow magistrates with a Right-to-Carry permit, and with some additional training, to carry concealed firearms into courthouses while on official business. This legislation represents a positive step by removing some of the arbitrary restrictions on where certain RTC permit holders may carry their personal protection firearms. Additionally, two pro-gun reforms remain alive for next year, as they both passed the Senate before the crossover deadline of May 14, 2009. The first, Senate Bill 11, is similar to H 473, but extends the same exemption to district attorneys and assistant district attorneys with RTC permits. The other, Senate Bill 928, fell victim to anti-gun State Representative Deborah Ross (D-38), who refused to allow a hearing on the bill in the House Judiciary I Committee that she chairs. S 928 would simply codify the Castle Doctrine in the home, as well as establish civil immunity for those who use lethal force to defend themselves or their loved ones while in their homes. In other words, if a law-abiding citizen uses a firearm against a violent criminal attacker who has illegally entered the citizen’s home, the citizen cannot be charged with a criminal offense, and will not face any civil suit. Rep. Ross is apparently so anti-gun that she will not even allow a hearing for a bill that simply codifies existing case law, and will protect law-abiding citizens who defend themselves in their own homes against violent criminals. NRA will continue to work with legislators to ensure both S 11 and S 928 are given hearings next year.
Other pro-gun reforms that were dealt unfortunate defeats include House Bill 269, which sought to remove restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in parks by Right-to-Carry permit holders, and House Bill 270, which sought to remove restrictions on RTC permit holders carrying concealed firearms in restaurants licensed to serve alcohol. Both bills had scheduled hearings, but were shunted off to subcommittee, and never heard again. Another key pro-gun reform was Senate Bill 892, which sought to eliminate the requirement that law-abiding citizens receive a permit to transfer a handgun from their sheriff before acquiring a handgun. This bill had a scheduled hearing, but after opposition to the bill came from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, Senate Democrat Leadership forced the bill to be pulled from the calendar, and it was never scheduled again. While the rules of the General Assembly indicate these bills cannot be heard next year because they did not pass at least one chamber before crossover deadline, NRA will investigate whether there are any options available to try to revive them.
Finally, Senate Bill 460—the anti-dog breeder, anti-hunting bill promoted by the radical Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)—remains viable. Although the bill did not pass the Senate before May 14, it is not subject to the rules governing the crossover deadline because of its fiscal impact. S 460 passed out of the Senate on August 5 on a narrow 23-22 vote, after intense support from the Senate Democrat Leadership. Once in the House, the Democrat Leadership there attempted to ram the bill through a quick series of committee hearings. Fortunately, the momentum was slowed due to the efforts of a large coalition of opponents to the bill. Opponents included the North Carolina Livestock Industry, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association, the North Carolina Federation of Dog Clubs, the North Carolina Sporting Dog Association, and numerous other state and local organizations. The prestigious American Kennel Club (AKC)—a group synonymous with representing the interests of dogs, dog owners, and dog breeders for 125 years—also weighed in against the legislation. Even the National Animal Interest Alliance—a national group that promotes animal welfare (not "animal rights") WITHOUT promoting an anti-hunting agenda—opposed S 460. The House Finance Committee heard the bill briefly on Monday, August 10, but it was pulled from the calendar after supporters of the legislation realized they did not have the votes. The supporters made it clear, however, that they will be back to push this bill next year.
NRA will keep you abreast of developments on the legislation that remains active, and we thank everyone who took the time to contact their legislators in response to our legislative alerts.