On Tuesday, the North Carolina Senate voted to override Governor Roy Cooper’s first veto of the new legislative biennium by a vote of 30-19.
Cooper vetoed Senate Bill 41 (S.B. 41) last week, his first veto since the new members took office in January who were elected in the 2022 midterms.
Voters limited Cooper’s veto power in the 2022 election. North Carolinians sent a Republican supermajority to the state Senate, and a near Republican supermajority plus several moderate Democrats to the state House.
Sen. Danny Britt, R-Robeson, is the primary sponsor of the bill.
“What we are doing in this bill would not have impacted the situation in Nashville,” said Britt. “I hope no one uses the situation in Nashville to score political points.”
Sen. Sydney Batch, D-Wake, spoke against the bill, followed by Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake. Both mentioned the Nashville shooting in their comments.
Batch has concerns over the bill because she was the victim of cyberstalking. The perpetrator of the crimes received a 144-month sentence but is getting out early, according to Batch.
Blue, the Senate minority leader, said the legislature was helping lives with Medicaid expansion, but now the legislature is hurting lives with this bill. Blue said gun violence deaths are the leading cause of death among children now.
The first component of Senate Bill 41 (S.B. 41) eliminates a barrier regarding where and when guns can be legally carried.
In most North Carolina churches and places of religious worship, the congregations can decide whether firearms are allowed on their private property and what security measures they will have in place to protect their congregations. However, if a church or other place of religious worship is also the site of a private school, then that option is not available to the congregation.
S.B. 41 closes that loophole so a person who is legally registered to carry a concealed handgun can do so on the property of a church or other place of religious worship provided that:
- It is located on private property.
- It is not during school hours.
- No students are present for curricular or extracurricular activities at the time.
- The person in control of the property has not posted a “no guns allowed” sign.
The second part of the bill repeals North Carolina’s Jim Crow-era pistol purchase permit law.
After the Civil War, North Carolina’s Democratic-controlled legislature enacted a permit system designed with the “intention… to keep minorities from possessing handguns,” according to The North Carolina Law Review.
Now, a century later, the report finds that “Black applicants [are] experiencing a rejection rate of approximately three times the rate of White applicants” for pistol permits at the Wake County Sheriff’s Office.
North Carolina is the only state in the South that has kept this law. Federal law already requires background checks for pistols purchased through licensed dealers.
The last component of the bill creates a safe storage initiative using state funds through the Department of Public Safety.
Cooper put out a statement today on Twitter, accusing Republicans of ill intent.
Cooper’s statement has already received heavy criticism and accusations of using a tragedy for political gain.
In the House, a vote to override Cooper’s veto will require at least one Democrat to maintain their support of the bill. Reps. Michael Wray, D-Northampton, Marvin Lucas, D-Cumberland, and Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, voted in favor of S.B. 41 to send it to Cooper’s desk.
At least one of them will need to maintain their support of the bill. Rep. Shelly Willingham has indicated that if he votes for a bill, he will maintain his support regardless of whether Cooper vetoes.
Willingham told The Assembly that he would vote to override Cooper’s veto on any bill that he’s already supported.
“If it comes back, I’ll still support it,” Willingham said. “That’s just the way I operate.”
The House has indicated they may hold an override vote this week. If the House successfully overrides, the bill will become law.