Despite its popular “First in Freedom” moniker, one issue North Carolina is lagging on is broadening Second Amendment protections. Over a dozen states have scrapped the requirement for concealed carry permits, while other states have recently liberalized various restrictions on carrying firearms. North Carolina already allows for open carry without a permit. Vermont, one of the most politically liberal states, has allowed for permit less concealed carry for over 200 years. North Dakota became the latest to pass constitutional carry Friday, and “live Free or Die” New Hampshire made it the law last month.
Twenty other states, including North Carolina, have legislation pending to enact constitutional carry. Taking notice of North Carolina’s slow pace to expand an inherent right, Rep. Larry Pittman (H.B. 69) and Rep. Chris Millis (H.B. 201) have introduced two different versions of constitutional carry bills. Millis’s bill is the more aggressive version, scrapping the outdated pistol purchase permits, but both would go a long way to modernize North Carolina’s gun laws.
With the growth of government, especially at the federal level, many rights have been constricting, particularly religious liberty protections. However, this has not been true of the right to keep and bear arms. Several recent Supreme Court rulings have expanded gun rights, pushing states with more restrictive laws to play catch-up. And despite former President Barack Obama’s constant agitating for increased firearm restrictions, popular support for the Second Amendment is on a long, sustained upswing.
Two state legislative bodies, Missouri and West Virginia, have recently overridden vetoes by Democratic governors to make constitutional carry the law of the land. Even a certain veto by Gov. Roy Cooper should only act as a minor obstacle if Republicans and some Democrats are serious about strengthening Second Amendment protections.
Permit courses and certification will still be invaluable for offering reciprocity to North Carolinians in other states. The permit remains an essential class for new handgun owners and those in need of learning the state’s firearm laws. Proponents of constitutional carry rightly point out that simply covering a firearm with a jacket should not make something that is legal illegal. If Pittman’s bill becomes law, a state concealed carry permit is still required for citizens who wish to bypass the county pistol permit process. Those who are barred from carrying or purchasing handguns will remain unable to do so under either bill.
Constitutional carry proposals often ignite media hysteria likening it to the “Wild West,” or at least the Hollywood version and not the reality. But states that enact the legislation are generally much safer than states with more restrictive firearm laws. After all, North Carolinians who are legally allowed to own a firearm can walk with one or carry it in plain view.
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