Last night, HB 937, “An Act to Amend State Firearm Laws,” passed in both houses of the General Assembly. The bill is headed to the governor, where it will be signed in to law. Here is a quick breakdown of the provisions included in the law.
- Concealed carriers may now leave their weapons in a locked vehicle on a college campus. In 2002, an active shooter at a Tennessee law school was halted by two concealed carry permit holders who retrieved their handguns from their cars when they heard gunfire.
- Increased penalties for violators. Felons who use or brandish a firearm can have added years tacked on their sentence – up to 72 months. The law also creates a status of “armed habitual offender” that can be applied to felons who commit more than one firearm-related felony.
- Enhanced enforcement of existing laws. Involuntary commitment (institutionalization) and other legal findings of mental incapacity are now reported to NICS, the national criminal background check used for firearms purchases. This allows gun stores to identify mentally ill people who attempt to obtain weapons.
- Concealed carriers may now carry at funerals, parades, establishments that sell alcohol, and establishments that charge admission. The last two are a particular improvement over existing laws.
- Handgun purchase permits and concealed carry permits are no longer public records. Earlier this year, a New York newspaper published a database of concealed carry holders. North Carolina has passed legislation to prevent a similar thing from happening in the Tar Heel State.
- Hunters can now use suppressors. Suppressors reduce recoil slightly and minimize the potential for hearing loss.
- The handgun purchase permit system is still in place. We wrote about this previously – NC is one of only 12 states that require citizens to have a permit to purchase a handgun. Sheriffs will retain control over the purchase permit system, but under the new law they must give a written explanation if a purchase permit is denied.
All told, this is a victory for North Carolina gun owners and for gun rights. HB 937 is not perfect, but it is a huge step in the right direction.