Yesterday, HB 650, a bill containing several provisions intended to increase the legal rights of firearm owners, met harsh criticism on the House floor in regards to Section 13 which enabled concealed carry permit holders to keep weapons locked within their car at their place of employment. However, the harshest criticism did not come from the side of the political aisle one would expect. In fact, the most aggressive disparagements came from Rep. Paul (Skip) Stam (R -Wake). Stam and other representatives, who were less than keen on supporting the 2nd Amendment, supported an amendment proposed by Rep. McGrady (R – Henderson) to HB 650 that struck out Section 13 in its entirety.
During the debate, Stam and a few other Republicans and Democrats repeatedly assaulted this section of the bill as an attack on property rights of employers. They argued that by not allowing employers to ban employees from bringing firearms onto their property, it limited their right to control their own property. These assertions were the same complaints that Rep. Hackney (D – Chatham) brought up in committee. However, HB 650’s sponsor, Rep. Mark Hilton (R – Catawba) countered this argument by stating that the right of individual property did not extend into another individual’s vehicle using an analogy about the illegality of officers searching an individual’s car without a warrant because the vehicle is an extension of the individual’s property.
However, despite opposition of Republicans such as Jordan (R – Ashe), Barnhart (R – Cabarrus), and Hilton, the amendment still passed. Another amendment meant to strike out a part of the bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry on educational premises did not survive. While HB 650 has fortunately passed out of the House, it did not escape the gauntlet of anti-2nd Amendment attacks unscathed. In addition, it is apparent that some Republicans are among the opponents of expanding the rights of law abiding firearm owners.