As Kansas prepares to enact its new campus-carry laws, with constitutional carry laws already on the books, two other states have made strides toward permitless concealed-carry legislation of their own.
In North Carolina, lawmakers recently approved House Bill 746 by a 65-54 vote. The bill is an omnibus measure, according to guns.com, that retains the current permitting system for purposes of reciprocity with other states, while removing the requirement to have a license to carry in North Carolina for anyone legally allowed to own a gun who is 18 years of age or older.
The bill also retains the state’s pistol-purchase-permit requirement. North Carolina residents must obtain a pistol-purchase-permit issued by the sheriff in the county of residence for every handgun purchase. If someone obtains a concealed-carry permit, they don’t need the purchase permit to buy a handgun. Either of these options exempts a gun buyer from an on-the-spot NICS background check at the time of purchase, since obtaining the permits already requires a background check.
“It is reasonable to allow law-abiding citizens to conceal carry in areas where open carry is currently allowed,” said state Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Greensboro), according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
The bill, of course, has its opponents.
“I think it’s going in the wrong direction for preventing gun violence in our state,” said state Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro), who attempted, unsuccessfully, to attach a magazine-capacity limit to the bill, as guns.com notes.
Wcnc.com reports that the state Fraternal Order of Police also opposes the bill. “I’m not opposed to people carrying concealed weapons; I never leave home without one,” Randy Hagler, president of the NC FOP and chief of the CMS Police, told WCNC. He says that, since, under the current law, people must undergo a background and mental-health check when getting a concealed-carry permit, when a police officer stops a CCW-permit holder, they “are assured that the individual has been properly vetted.”
On the flip side, one could argue that criminals who are going to carry concealed weapons will do so regardless of the law—and if they have a criminal record, they would still be opening themselves up to felony charges if they are caught with an illegal firearm.
“The good citizens that carry their guns don’t cause problems, the criminals don’t follow the law anyway and carry concealed so the good citizens are disadvantaged because it takes so long to get the permits,” said Larry Hyatt, owner of Hyatt Gun and Coin, in the same story.
House Majority Leader John Bell said in a statement that he is mostly for the legislation but opposes its current form because of the age-range requirement. “We think allowing that group from 18 to 21 to carry concealed is dangerous for officers, certainly dangerous for officers, but is dangerous for everybody,” Bell told WCNC.
A final vote is scheduled for Thursday. If it passes, the bill will head to the state Senate for review, where changes to aspects like the age range could be made.
Michigan Advances Four-Pack of Bills to Institute Permitless Carry
We reported previously on the introduction of a four-pack of bills in Michigan that would grant residents constitutional-carry rights. The package was since approved by a Republican-heavy majority in the state House and will now head to the state Senate, according to guns.com.
The bills would repeal a host of state laws that require training and state-issued permits to carry a concealed firearm. Like in North Carolina and many other states with constitutional-carry laws, a permitting system would remain in place so residents wishing to do so could obtain a permit for a $105 fee that would allow them to carry in other states with appropriate reciprocity laws, the story notes.
“My question is, why are law-abiding citizens paying expensive fees for courses and permits to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms?” asked Rep. Michelle Hoitenga, R-Manton, in lengthy testimony before lawmakers earlier this month.
The bills now go to the Senate for committee assignment, guns.com further reports. If it passes without amendments, it would then head to the desk of the governor.
“The states that have eliminated the permit requirement are basically making it easier to carry a gun in public than drive a car,” said Hannah Shearer, with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, in the story.
Second Amendment advocates would argue that that is precisely the point, since driving a car is a privilege granted by a given state, and keeping and bearing arms is a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
According to gunlaws.com, there are 14 states currently with constitutional-carry laws, including: Alaska (2007), Arkansas (2013), Arizona (2010), Idaho (2016), Kansas (2015) Mississippi (2016), Missouri (2017), Montana (1991), New Hampshire (2017), North Dakota (2017), Vermont (1791), Wyoming (2011).
The site says there are 20 states that are planning to introduce or have already introduced permitless carry laws in their legislatures.