On Tuesday, Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, and Republican state senators held a press conference highlighting bills that will expand gun rights ahead of the bills being debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Republicans introduced Senate Bill 40 that would repeal the Jim Crow era pistol purchase permit laws; Senate Bill 41 would eliminate a loophole that prevents gun owners with concealed handgun permits from carrying a concealed handgun during religious gatherings if the church meets on school grounds on other days of the week; and Senate Bill 67 which would establish a two-year statewide initiative to educate the public about the importance of safe storage of firearms.
Some Senate Democrats campaigned as being moderate on gun laws, as Britt pointed out at the beginning of his press conference. He specifically called on Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, to join him in supporting this bill.
“We had many moderate Democrats such as Senator Batch who ran on the idea that she supports common sense gun reform and common sense gun legislation, and that’s what these bills represent,” said Britt.
Senator Jim Perry, R-Lenoir, spoke to critics of Senate Bill 41, who claim it would hinder school safety. “We think this is very important,” said Perry. “This is purely about allowing churches to safely worship if they happen to meet at a location that also has a school on different days, so we would ask that you ignore the hyperbole and focus on what this bill really is.”
During the senate’s judiciary committee meeting, Republicans rolled all three bills into one bill. Democrats opposed the move and wanted three separate bills.
Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee appeared to be unified in support of Senate Bill 67, which would introduce a statewide gun safety campaign for two years, but did not support the other two bills.
Several pastors spoke in support of the bill, saying they did not feel they could protect their church congregations as the current law makes them “soft targets” for people wanting to cause harm.
The North Carolina Sheriffs Association is supporting the pistol purchase permit repeal and allowing concealed carry on private property outside of school hours for religious gatherings. They have not taken a position on the public awareness campaign for the safe storage of firearms yet.